Between both AC Milan and the Italian national team, it seems as if Ricardo Montolivo is back in his comfort zone: the center of the pitch. As EURO 2016 rolls around, however, competition for his spot increases.
“With the national team, the midfield especially, there are many of us with immense talent,” he explains. “Everyone should try to give their best to convince the coaches. I lost so much time to my injury, I’m essentially the new guy in the group. I know that my season with Milan will determine whether I make the national team or not.
No Pirlo No Party
“An Italy without Pirlo is hard to imagine for all including Andrea. The choice is that of Conte but we must take into account the great quality Andrea possesses. We hope he’ll be at the EURO- he is football, it’s amazing.” Montolivo then went on to explain, “The whole Pirlo situation is a reference point for us all. Pirlo is one of the strongest- if not the best in the world in his position; but there comes a time when the player has to stop and Italy has to look forward to other things. His time is bound to football in the United States right now.”
“Personally, even when he was in this group with us I took the same role I will be taking on now, so, no, I do not feel like a replacement of Pirlo- I just think about what I can do to help the team.” The Milan man then spoke about the FIFA rankings: “They give a general idea but it can’t be taken literally. A friendly simply can’t count as an official ranking game. The rules have to change, but, if not, we’ll have to adapt. To some teams, they fall and crumble under this pressure to keep with the rankings, but not us. I see a team that wants to impress, even if we are the favorite or the other team is better on paper. From the first team trainings there has been tremendous growth within the players. Conte is right, with the right attitude and some grit, it can fill the gap in lack of quality we’ve been showing recently. I understand him when he says the national team needs men and not just simple players. If I was coach, I’d say the same thing. In times of trouble we serve men, but here are the technical values and human important “.
Sinsia like Conte?
Montolivo sees similarities between the two tacticians. “The similar group concepts, the rules and respect for each respective shirt are some things both Mihajlovic and Conte share. Montolivo then commented on Balotelli: “Mario is not well, he has to think about healing himself right now. The groin is very difficult to cure. It’s difficult to say right now whether he can return with the national team in time. He has to first regain his spot at Milan. And we have stron players in his position, so it will be tough to earn the spot. One step at a time at Milan and then the national team will come calling.”