For AC Milan’s trip to face Red Star Belgrade on Thursday night, Stefano Pioli is set to use his squad’s full depth.

In the first leg of their last 32 ties in the European League, the Rossoneri face the Serbian team, also known as Crvena Zvezda, but the Milan coach will make multiple changes ahead of an even larger game on Sunday when they face Inter in the derby.

From the beginning, one of those improvements will see Mario Mandzukic’s play. Pioli said in his pre-match press conference, “Mario is in great condition, I think he can play from the off.”

Mario is a top professional and has been good at slotting in. He works very hard to hit peak conditions and every day he gets fitter, so I think he’s ready to play.

Rade Krunic, Samu Castillejo, Ante Rebic, Soualiho Meite, and Pierre Kalulu could see more possible shifts in the starting eleven.

Pioli does not, however, underestimate the team of Dejan Stankovic, nor does he underestimate the importance of the European League.

The Milan coach added, “We are very happy to play again in Europe, we want to be a surprise in this competition as well and get as far as we can.”

“We are entering a very important part of the season and we expect to have very tough matches both in Serie A and in the European League with that: we need to be ready.”

It is possible that only three or four of the players who took part in the disappointing 2-0 loss to Spezia by the Rossoneri would appear in Belgrade from the beginning, one of them being Gianluigi Donnarumma, the goalkeeper.


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