Olivier Giroud ‘more motivated than ever’ as AC Milan chase Champions League win
AC Milan striker Olivier Giroud is determined to roll back the years as he attempts to add another Champions League crown to his collection of honours.
The Frenchman, who will celebrate his 37th birthday in September, picked up a winner’s medal as an unused substitute in Chelsea’s 1-0 final victory over Premier League rivals Manchester City in 2021 and is refusing to allow age to diminish his hunger for future success.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of Wednesday evening’s eagerly-anticipated semi-final clash with neighbours Inter, Giroud said: “Today I’m more motivated than ever.
“For me, it’s a great opportunity to win the Champions League. I’m [nearly] 37 years old, but I have the same motivations as a young boy.”
The Milan rivals will battle it out for the right to face either Real Madrid or City in next month’s final in Istanbul, with each having won their respective Serie A “home” game this season and Inter triumphing in the Coppa Italia in January, but with both previous encounters in Europe’s biggest club competition going the way of Milan.
Giroud said: “A derby is always a special match. I am very proud of this Milan team and we hope to do something great tomorrow.”
Coach Stefano Pioli, who has guided his side past Tottenham and newly-crowned Italian champions Napoli to reach the last four, is hoping for more of the same, although that task may be all the more difficult with Rafael Leao battling a thigh injury.
Pioli said: “It will take great team-work, as we have seen in the last four Champions League matches. To get an exceptional result, you have to do an extraordinary job and we will try.”
The sides have met on seven occasions since November 2021, with Inter faring marginally better having won three to Milan’s two along with two draws, but boss Simone Inzaghi is reading little into that record.
He told his pre-match press conference: “We have played seven derbies in 20 months. We have won and we have lost.
“We can take something from those previous meetings, but every game is different. The players will need to sacrifice for their team-mates.
“We will need to use our heads and our hearts. I have no doubts about our hearts, but we will have to use our heads since there will be setbacks along the way. The race will last 180 minutes and we mustn’t forget it.”
For Inter wing-back Federico Dimarco, the tie conjures up painful memories, but also presents an opportunity to gain revenge for old wounds.
The 25-year-old was among the crowd at San Siro in May 2003 to see Andriy Shevchenko’s strike send Milan through on away goals after a 1-1 semi-final, second leg draw.
Dimarco said: “Like all derbies, it’s always an incredible feeling to play them as an Inter fan. I’ve also seen many. I’m really happy to play in a semi-final. I want to enjoy it.
“I was at San Siro in 2003. I don’t have wonderful memories as an Inter fan. To think that I was there 20 years ago and now I can play this match is an incredible feeling.”