Milan coach Stefano Pioli confirmed on Tuesday that striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss the start of the Champions League game against Liverpool due to a bruise he suffered in his first match after four months.
Ibrahimovic, 39, made an instant mark on Sunday in his first match since May, scoring the second goal in a 2-0 win over Lazio, seven minutes after he came on as a substitute in Serie A.
“Zlatan could have started on the bench but he had a bulging tendon, and that could happen after four months out of play,” Pioli told a news conference.
“We were hoping he’d keep playing and try it, but he felt pain and it didn’t make sense to take the risk,” he added. It’s an important match but we’ll have a lot of games after that.
“The unexpected absence is part of the game, but the team is ready and I will choose between Ante Rebic and Olivier Giroud to start,” he continued. I feel sorry for Zlatan but he will be back soon.
The match against Liverpool is the first for the seven-time European champion in the Champions League since the 2013-2014 season, and the first for Pioli in his coaching career.
The second group includes difficult tests for the Italian team, as it faces Liverpool, the champions in the 2018-2019 season, Atletico Madrid, the Spanish champions, and Porto, who reached the quarter-finals last season.
Pioli continued: There are no easy matches. Our group is very tough, the competitors are very strong and they have all competed in Europe in previous periods. But we want to start a new history for us from tomorrow with great respect and with great conviction. I am passionate about English football and I know Liverpool very well and we studied it. It is true that many of us have never played in the Champions League, but we have the way of playing, the enthusiasm and the energy and we will need this Wednesday.