Sandro Tonali spoke to MilanTV and Sky Italia ahead of Sunday’s huge match against Napoli at San Siro.
After getting a good result on Thursday against Manchester United at Old Trafford (1-1), Milan have turned their attention towards Napoli, who they host at Stadio San Siro on Sunday evening (20:45 CET).
Sandro Tonali, who is expected to play from the start against the Partenopei, sat down with MilanTV and Sky Italia on Friday to discuss the current moment of the Diavolo:
“The game against Udinese needed to be played a certain way, I don’t think we did all we could. We could have done more,” he told MilanTV. “That’s the first thing we told ourselves once it ended. The second half of the match in Manchester, I couldn’t come on without determination and vehemence in such a game, at such a time as we were losing but controlling the game. It was the minimum, it was natural. It was something the teammates who’d started passed on. We know what we’re made of and working together is more important than any individual, there are always 11 playing. Whoever it is, every teammate has to be your best friend for 90 minutes, the person you defend and sacrifice for. We need to be a united group and we’re showing we’re a great group even in these difficult moments.
“The group? I often look at the photo from when we were gathered at midfield under the rain against Rio Ave. That photo is hanging up in the dressing room, it triggers something in you. It reminds you of where you’ve come from and what you’ve gone through to get here. It reminds you of your merits. None of this came by itself, you’ve earned it through hard work, sweat and winning. They’re important things and that photo lights an ember in all of us, we’re here for a reason and we won’t give up.
“Kjær and Kessié? They are examples, not just for us youngsters but for all the team, including Ibrahimović and the Coach. One is the most professional member of the team, while the other is the team’s spine, he never gives up and is always ready; every game, every minute. They are our two great examples, they give a great boost to the whole team, the coach and all Milanisti.
“Pioli? The coach is giving me a lot; in training but also in things that aren’t strictly football-related. He is helping me grow a lot, on and off the field. He is a great person as well as a great coach so were always behind him. Can we say Sunday is Pioli’s match? You could say Sunday is Pioli’s match and Milan’s match, because these are the games Milan is made for. We can’t wait to play it and replicate the performance from Manchester.”
Speaking to Sky, Sandro said: “It sounds strange but we are trying to forget about the away trip to Manchester because that’s what you need when you have these types of games. We took the result in the end with merit, but on Sunday there is another fundamental game. We gave an important signal, because no one was expecting it. Only those of us who are part of the Milan group and work together every day believed it. We gave an important signal and not only to the Europa League teams. This match is definitely one of the best moments since I’ve been here, together with the day I arrived at Milan.
“Salvaging the game in the last minutes? We have recovered in 6 games after the 90 minute because we never give up, we are a great team and we are proving to be a strong team that fights for 90 minutes. I’m not saying that we are back, because we’ve always been like this. We are happy with what we are doing.
“The work of Pioli? The coach is one of us, also in Manchester he seemed to be in the middle of the field with us. He gives us a great firing up.
“Facing Gattuso on Sunday? Gattuso and I talk every now and then. He’s like a father to me in the world of football and he can give me advice both as a man and as a player. We don’t talk to each other very often but during the season it happens as it should be. He always criticizes me, but that’s how he is. He is a person who doesn’t praise much and always demands a lot, but that’s the way it should be.”