Gattuso braced for an ‘intense period’ for AC Milan

MILAN, ITALY - DECEMBER 09: AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso looks on before the Serie A match between AC Milan and Torino FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on December 9, 2018 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Gennaro Gattuso accepts the next eight days will be quite intensive for AC Milan with a run of three games in that period.

After a difficult end to 2018, Milan appear to be finding their stride of late with five wins in their last eight matches since the start of the new year.

The Rossoneri are up in fourth-place in the Serie A table and, therefore, in a qualification spot for a return to Champions League football next season after a five-year absence.

Starting with Friday’s league game against Empoli, however, Milan will face a tricky run of fixtures that will also see them take on Lazio in the Coppa Italia and Sassuolo in the league again in the space of eight days.

“It will be an intense period,” admitted Gattuso on the club website.

“We have three games in eight days coming up so it’s inevitable that decisions have to be made around this.

“Today, we’ll understand who will play and in what system. When you’re getting results, it’s hard to make changes but it’s right to give players opportunities.

“We need to keep our enthusiasm up and keep working in this way, disappointments can always happen. You can’t let up at all.”

For now, the Italian coach’s focus will be on Friday’s game against 17th-place Empoli.

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The Azzurri have managed to climb out the relegation zone in the Serie A under Giuseppe Iachini, who was appointed as manager in November, following last weekend’s 3-0 win over Sassuolo.

And Gattuso admits that Iachini’s changes at Empoli have left him worried.

“I’m concerned. Tactically, they’ve changed their formation, managing to combine technical qualities with very interesting defensive work,” said Gattuso.

“There aren’t any easy games this season: the group’s development needs to come from games like this.

“It’ll be a very difficult game for us, and I hope nobody underestimates this fact. Our concentration levels need to be good, just like they were in the first few minutes against Cagliari.”

The match between Milan and Empoli will take place at the San Siro with kick-off set for 8:30 PM (CET) on Friday.