Empoli boss Davide Nicola calls for ‘volcanic’ effort to shock AC Milan

By Sports Desk March 09, 2024

Empoli coach Davide Nicola feels only a “volcanic” effort from his side will be enough to help them get a result at AC Milan.

The Rossoneri will be out to keep the pressure on Juventus in the chase for second behind runaway Serie A leaders Inter Milan and head into Sunday’s game on the back of a 4-2 win over Slavia Prague in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie.

Empoli, meanwhile, sit 15th, just two points above the relegation zone.

Nicola knows his men will be up against it at the San Siro but challenged them to go into the game with a positive mindset.

“When we talk about a team like Milan, strong and with a capable coach, it is not easy to identify flaws, but this is our job and we do it because every opponent has them,” Nicola told a press conference.

“We will need a volcanic Empoli, from the point of view of energy and obsessive organisation in both phases, but also of enthusiasm in showing our identity and the desire to continue on our path.

“We have prepared. The important thing is to do everything with maximum concentration and also with enthusiasm because we have to express ourselves.”

Nicola expects a response to last weekend’s home defeat by Cagliari,

“From a quality point of view, we have already set aside the previous performance,” said Nicola, whose side have won both of their previous two away games.

“We know we need to improve in some phases of the match.

“The desire to compete with a high-quality team, who are used to playing every three days, is an absolute growth opportunity for us.”

AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli will have to do without Rafael Leao through suspension after the Portuguese winger picked up a fifth yellow card in the Serie A victory over Lazio.

Swiss forward Noah Okafor is expected to start, having scored a late winner when coming off the bench at the Stadio Olimpico.

Nicola knows whatever side Pioli picks is set to provide a stern test.

“I don’t think Milan are Leao-dependent, he is an extraordinary player, but they have a competitive squad,” the Empoli coach said.

“Regardless of who is there, we must have the taste and mentality to express ourselves.

“Our attention to work never changes, regardless of the opponent we encounter.”

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