Ibrahimovic can make the difference for Milan - Brahim Diaz

By Sports Desk January 10, 2021

Zlatan Ibrahimovic can make the difference for Milan in the Serie A title race after returning from injury, according to team-mate Brahim Diaz.

Ibrahimovic scored 10 goals in six league games to help the Rossoneri make a fast start to the 2020-21 season, but injuries have hampered him since late November.

Milan have continued to prosper without the talismanic striker, yet Diaz believes the Swede can now play a pivotal role - and not just on the pitch - after making his comeback on Saturday.

The 39-year-old came off the bench in the closing stages of a 2-0 win over Torino, Stefano Pioli's side bouncing back impressively after Juventus had put an end to their unbeaten record in midweek.

"Ibrahimovic is a player who makes the difference," Diaz said in an interview with Sky Sport Italia.

“He transfers his great experience to us. Now that he is back, we will do great things.

"He has a winning mentality and forces you to always give your best, he wants the best of ourselves every day."

Diaz made his eighth league start of the campaign against Torino, playing a pivotal role in helping his team claim three points.

The Spaniard set up Rafael Leao for the home side's opening goal, then won the penalty that allowed Franck Kessie to double the advantage before half-time.

The victory moved Milan four points clear at the summit and with nearest rivals Inter only able to draw on Sunday, hopes are high they can be crowned champions of Italy for the first time in a decade.

"We are Milan, this word is enough to understand that we always want to win, then we'll see," said Diaz, who is on loan from Real Madrid.

"We can dream. We are a very united group and we want to do great things together. The best is yet to come, we are all fine and also I feel great.

"I am happy for the penalty which I won, for the assist and for the three points against Torino. If we continue like this, little by little we will be able to do more and more."

Related items

  • Moore holds out hope for struggling Sheffield Wednesday, despite poor managerial start Moore holds out hope for struggling Sheffield Wednesday, despite poor managerial start

    Jamaican manager Darren Moore believes struggling Sheffield Wednesday are still in with a chance to beat the odds and survive relegation despite getting off to a nightmare start to his tenure in charge of the club.

    Ten-man Sheffield Wednesday suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Reading on Saturday, which marked a second straight defeat for Moore.  The former Jamaica international began his tenure at the club on Wednesday with a 2-1 loss to 10-man Rotherham.

    The results left the team second from the bottom of the table and eight points adrift of safety.   Moore, who took over the position from caretaker boss Neil Thompson, became the club’s third manager of a turbulent 2021 campaign.  The Owls had been without a manager since December 28 following the sacking of Tony Pulis after 10 matches.

    “All the odds are stacked against us, but we’re still in there with a fighting chance. We have to work. We’ve had a few days, a lot has gone on and it has been a big week. I’ve seen a desire in the group, they’ve not come for us, but we have that pride.  We have to continue that and move onto the next game,” Moore told the UK Star.

    “It’s essential. We’ve had a tough week but it’s not been one that we haven’t been trying to put things right.  That result is there for us. We have to get that belief back and show what they’re about moving forward.”

  • Pirlo impressed by Juventus' spirit in comeback victory Pirlo impressed by Juventus' spirit in comeback victory

    Andrea Pirlo saluted the spirit of his Juventus side after they came from behind to seal a 3-1 win over Lazio in Serie A on Saturday.

    The Bianconeri fell behind to Joaquin Correa's 14th-minute strike, but powered back to claim all three points thanks to Adrien Rabiot's fine strike and Alvaro Morata's second-half brace – the second of which came from the penalty spot. 

    Morata's double took his goal involvement tally this season to 15 (seven goals, eight assists) – his best return in a Serie A campaign. 

    The result means third-placed Juve are now seven points behind leaders Inter, having played the same number of games. 

    With an eye on Tuesday's Champions League last-16 second leg against Porto, which the Portuguese side hold a 2-1 advantage in, Pirlo opted to shuffle his pack against Lazio. 

    Serie A's leading goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo started on the substitutes' bench, while Federico Bernardeschi was deployed at left-back and Danilo was used in a defensive midfield role. 

    While Pirlo was disappointed with his side's sluggish start, he was pleased they were able to secure all three points after going behind for the first time since the 2-1 win over Torino in December. 

    "We started badly and conceded with our poor back pass, but then there was a strong reaction from the whole team despite missing so many players," he told DAZN. 

    "We didn't let our heads drop, we started to step up the tempo and that was the most important thing.

    "We thought about Tuesday's game. We knew tonight was like a final, some had to play in new positions and showed great professionalism and spirit of sacrifice.

    "The most important thing was the three points. Danilo was ready to work in central midfield, while Bernardeschi deserves all the compliments for playing as a left-back.

    "What I liked the most was the reaction of the team, as we didn't accept being behind in such a delicate and important game, so it was that spirit I appreciated."

    While he did not get on the scoresheet, Federico Chiesa was particularly impressive for the reigning champions, and the winger, who laid on Morata's first, believes something has sparked amongst his team-mates. 

    "We put in a great performance, but only after conceding the opening goal, which was a mistake," he said. "We proved that we have heart, grit and I think we'll battle to the end if we play like this.

    "Lazio have shown themselves to be a great team, always in the fight for the top four, so it was a big game. Having said that, they are all big if we want to win the Scudetto.

    "I do what the coach asks of me. Winning the ball back comes above all from the team pressing and not just individuals. The assist was mine, but I was able to get the ball because we all worked so hard to win it back.

    "After tonight, I think we're all in great shape. Something sparked within us and from now on every game is a final, whether it's in Serie A, the Champions League or the Coppa Italia."

  • Haaland sub to protect Dortmund star ahead of Champions League action Haaland sub to protect Dortmund star ahead of Champions League action

    Erling Haaland was only substituted as a precaution in Borussia Dortmund's 4-2 Klassiker defeat to Bayern Munich, interim coach Edin Terzic said.

    Superstar striker Haaland looked to have set BVB on course to a fine victory when he netted twice in the opening nine minutes at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

    Those efforts took his tally against Bayern this season to four goals across all competitions, the most in matches with the Bavarian giants over the course of a single campaign since Cristiano Ronaldo netted five in 2016-17.

    But by the time Haaland made way after 60 minutes, nursing a cut to his ankle, Bayern were back level.

    Robert Lewandowski scored twice before the break and then, following Haaland's departure, a crucial, controversial Leon Goretzka volley preceded the home forward's hat-trick goal.

    Images of Haaland wincing in pain on the bench were unlikely to lift the mood among Dortmund supporters, already unable to watch Jadon Sancho following a muscle injury in midweek.

    Yet Terzic said Haaland, now with 19 league goals to his name at a rate of one every 84 minutes this term, was merely being protected.

    BVB host Sevilla in the Champions League on Tuesday, aiming to protect a 3-2 first-leg advantage, with Haaland set to start for the 28th time this season.

    "He played a very good game," Terzic said. "He got a little kick, but that wasn't the problem.

    "He's been playing every game for weeks; we've got to protect him a little bit. We expect him to be able to play against Sevilla."

    Haaland's double took him to 32 Bundesliga goals across 34 matches this season and last.

    Uwe Seeler is the only player in the history of the competition to score more often in his first 34 appearances (33).

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.