ALESSANDRO MATRI still believes Milan can fight for trophies this season and claims he’d celebrate against Juventus.
While the likes of Andrea Poli and Valter Birsa have begun to partially justify their summer signing, Alessandro Matri has so far failed to do so, as he was underwhelming in all of the seven games he’s played for Milan in Serie A in UCL this year.
Matri will get a chance to prove his worth on Sunday evening at the Juventus Stadium when Milan play the side with which they agreed a €11 million deal less than two months ago over the 29-year-old who remains calm despite his drought.
“If I miss scoring? I miss it a lot, but I have already experienced moments like these and I got through them, so I’m calm,” Matri, a Milan youth product, told the Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport. “If I will celebrate if I score against Juventus? Yes, I think so. I don’t see it as a lack of respect. I also did it against Cagliari; I don’t see why I shouldn’t celebrate.
“If I have spoken with any of my former team-mates at Juventus recently? I have maintained a good relationship with many of them, and some of them have sent me messages to cheer me up because I haven’t managed to score. But the joke was always the same: ‘You still have to wait a bit before you start scoring again. Don’t score against us’. I left a great group of players, and I will be happy to see them all again. I have a special relationship with Pirlo, Chiellini and Simone Pepe.
“Andrea Pirlo going straight to the changing room after being subbed? It hasn’t happened to me because when I was at Juventus, I used to come on in the second half instead of being taken off. In any case, I don’t think Pirlo overreacted. You’ve to understand the context. It’s okay to be a bit irritated after an exhausting match where you were man-marked.
“The differences between Allegri and Conte? Conte is more obsessed with tactics than Allegri is, and he is a great motivator. Allegri has more of a relationship with the players, and he tries to interact more than Conte does. Allegri’s best quality is that he manages to keep his calm even in difficult moments. I have always had a great relationship with him. If I think that Juventus only sold me for financial reasons? When the club calls you and tells you that if they receive an offer they will take into serious consideration, then that means you’re not the first choice and that the club isn’t counting on you.
“Juventus wanted to make some investments and they needed money. It was between me and Quagliarella, and I left because Juventus got an offer for me first. If it’s true that foreigners like Llorente are being rated higher than Italian players? I won’t judge Llorente as he is a great guy, but it is true that the Italian clubs do not count a lot on Italian players.
“I didn’t expect Milan to be so far from the top spots, but it’s always strange when you start over again,” he continued. “Milan have changed a lot, and have also had a lot of injuries. This shouldn’t be an alibi, but it takes time to assemble a team. Playing every three days doesn’t help. If a win against Juventus on Sunday could be the turning point for us? Winning against a direct rival could give confidence and boost our morale. I believe that we can finish in the top three in Serie A.
“And I also believe that we can win the Scudetto. And why shouldn’t I? The season is long. Juventus seem vulnerable? I didn’t see the match against Galatasaray as I sometimes like to unwind. There is nothing more to add about Juve’s value. Only time will tell if they have become strengthened or weakened after last summer’s transfer window. Conte wasn’t wrong when said that it is difficult to stay at the top because after 3 years the opponents will study you. The other teams have strengthened themselves, primarily Roma and Napoli, and the competitiveness of Serie A has increased. It is only normal to experience a drop both mentally and physically.” Juve are 3rd, -2 from Roma; Milan are 9th, -10 from the leaders.
“Mario Balotelli? I have known him since he was 15. He was already good back then, albeit more calm. He has unique qualities and it is great to play with him. He gets fouled a lot and those players should be punished more, but Balotelli must learn to stay calm. How many goals I have to score to convince Prandelli to take me to the World Cup? Besides goals, you also need to deliver good performances. I’m fortunate enough to play with El Shaarawy and Balotelli here at Milan, and they are already in the NT. Having a great understanding with them on the pitch could help me to become a part of the NT.
“How Federica Nargi and I deal with all the attention? We have been together for 5 years, so there is nothing new to report. In any case, we’re very aware of going to the right places. Does the press say that it’s her fault that I’m not scoring anymore? If I have found a house in Milano yet? Yes, but I still have to move my things. Federica can stay calm, because there is not much left to move, but I’m returning the favor by having us move into a larger apartment than the one we had in Torino.”
With Mario Balotelli suspended and Stephan El Shaarawy out for the next 3-4 weeks, Matri will start in attack on Sunday alongside Robinho with Riccardo Montolivo probably playing again as the attacking midfielder (Valter Birsa is injured).