Stefano Pioli is set to use the full depth of his squad for AC Milan’s trip to face Red Star Belgrade on Thursday night.
The Rossoneri face the Serbian outfit – also known as Crvena Zvezda – in the first leg of their Europea League last 32 tie but the Milan coach will make numerous changes ahead of an even bigger game on Sunday when they face Inter in the derby.
One of those changes will see Mario Mandzukic play from the start. “Mario is in great condition, I think he can play from the off”, said Pioli in his pre-match press conference.
“Mario is a top professional and has slotted in very well. He’s working very hard to reach peak condition and is getting fitter every day, so I think he’s ready to play.”
Other potential changes could see Rade Krunic, Samu Castillejo, Ante Rebic, Soualiho Meite, and Pierre Kalulu come into the starting eleven.
However, Pioli isn’t underestimating Dejan Stankovic’s team, nor is he undervaluing the importance of the Europe League.
“We’re very happy to play in Europe again, we want to be a surprise in this competition too and get as far as we can”, the Milan coach added.
“We’re entering a very important part of the season and with that, we expect very tough games both in Serie A and in the Europe League: we need to be ready”.
It’s likely that only three or four of the player that took part in the Rossoneri’s disappointing 2-0 away loss to Spezia will feature from the beginning in Belgrade, one of those being goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.