AC Milan targeting Europa League trophy ahead of ‘special’ Celtic clash – Kjaer

AC Milan defender Simon Kjaer says that he is raring to go in the Europa League group stages with a clash against Celtic, though the occasion will be spoiled by the lack of fans.

Nevertheless, the centre-back, who was the only player to score two penalties in the marathon shootout victory over Rio Ave to help the Rossoneri reach this stage, says that his side will be targeting the three points.

“Celtic are a great club with a great history, everybody knows that. And Celtic Park is really something special,” he told Goal while on international duty.

“I have played there once with Fenerbahce, and I can honestly say that even after 500 games in top football, where I’ve been at all the biggest and most legendary stadiums, then still Celtic Park is special with an amazing atmosphere. I will definitely miss the full experience of the Scottish fans though, and just like playing in our own San Siro, it makes you think.

“Football is for the fans. We play to entertain, to make the fans happy – and to interact with them during games. Playing in a ghost stadium just isn’t the same, but we all have to adjust to this strange situation and hit the right psychological level of tension and focus – and we do that as professionals.

“Motivation has to come from within yourself. But the feeling around the games is just not the same. I miss the passion of people in the stands, and I can’t wait to play in a full stadium again.”

Kjaer’s record with Milan is remarkable, having lost just once in the 26 matches he has played with the club, including a 21-game undefeated sequence in all competitions. Little wonder, then, he is optimistic about the chances of Stefano Pioli’s side.

“We have had a good start in Serie A and now we also want to get a good start in the Europa League,” he said. “It’s two completely different things. People talk about how we finished last season in great style following the break, but I actually believe that it goes further back than that.

“We have been on a great journey of development for the whole of this year and if we can continue playing like we have played so far in 2020 – which has been as one of the best if not the best team in Serie A – then I see no reason why we should not aim for the top of the league.

“There is a lot of potential in this young group of players and we have been improving week by week. Our coach is not only a great coach but also a great person – that is something I really appreciate.

“We have a huge appetite for success and we all work hard to bring AC Milan back where the club belongs – at the top in both Serie A and international football. We always enter any game to win it and now when we enter the Europa League, our goal must be to win the trophy.”

Meanwhile, the 31-year-old former Wolfsburg, Lille and Sevilla star feels he has additional responsibility in the team due to his status as a senior player.

“The future of AC Milan looks exciting. We have a very, very young team with just a few of us older figures to add some experience,” he said. “When the club came for me, they told me that they wanted my experience and skills as a leader, which they had noticed with my clubs and as captain for Denmark.

“Personally, I feel that I am in a very good place in my career. Reaching 100 internationals for Denmark at Wembley, while having been the captain of my country for a few years now, is something special – a milestone That makes me very proud and motivates me a lot.

“I am playing some of the best football in my career and 2020 has been amazing for me – arriving at this huge club and then a lot of victories since then. But I mean – AC Milan – just have a look at the history, the results, the passion of the global fan base, the legends.

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