AC Milan’s sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli says he feels sorry for Arsenal after they were paired with the Italian giants in the Europa League last sixteen.
Predicting the Rossoneri will progress at the expense of Arsene Wenger’s side, Mirabelli underlined his confidence by suggesting the Gunners were the perfect opponents. Anybody who watched us last night might be inclined to agree.
“I’m sorry for Arsenal, who I’m sure would have liked to have continued in Europe,” said Mirabelli after the draw.
“It would have been a nice final, but I’m happy. It’s best to face a big club like Arsenal now. We needed opponents like these.”
Arsenal and Milan have faced each other six times in European competition to date. Milan beat George Graham’s Cup Winners’ Cup winners 2-0 on aggregate in the 1995 Super Cup, Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor scored in the San Siro to secure a memorable Champions League win in 2008 and the Italians progressed at the Gunners expense in the same competition four years later when they clung on to a 4-0 first-leg win to progress 4-3.
Christian Abbiati, Milan’s Club Manager, played in goal on the night Arsenal threatened one of Europe’s greatest comebacks. He doesn’t think N5’s current crop is of the same standard.
“It was a disaster at London, where we lost 3-0, but in the end, we made it through,” Abbiati said. “I hope we don’t see the same mistakes this time. Milan are in good form at the moment with some good results and I hope we can keep it up.
“This is definitely not the same Arsenal as back then and we meet them in what is a positive moment for us, even if we’ve got lots of games coming up with the league and the Coppa Italia. Playing games like this motivates you by itself.”
Milan, who were bought by a Chinese consortium last April, spent the best part of £200 million reshaping their squad last summer but have been somewhat indifferent on the domestic front and only sit seventh in Serie A. Vincenzo Montella started the campaign in the dugout but he’s since been replaced by that angry hobbit Gennaro Gattuso.
Arsenal travel to the San Siro on 8 March before hosting Milan at the Emirates on 15 March.
The draw in full
Lazio v Dynamo Kiev
RB Leipzig v Zenit St Petersburg
Atletico Madrid v Lokomotiv Moscow
CSKA v Lyon
Marseille v Athletic Bilbao
Sporting Lisbon v Viktoria Plzen
Borussia Dortmund v FC Salzburg
Milan v Arsenal