Gattuso expects tough Lazio encounter

Gattuso expects tough Lazio encounter

Published Sep. 9, 2011 1:00 a.m. ET

AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso has predicted a tough test when the defending champions open the Serie A season against Lazio today.

Lazio have bolstered their ranks significantly with Miroslav Klose, Djibril Cisse, Federico Marchetti, Abdoulay Konko and Marius Stankevicius among their new recruits.

"This year the Biancoceleste could make life difficult to any team in the tournament,'' said Gattuso.

"We will approach this game with a lot of respect for them, hoping to start the season in the best possible way.''


A win on Friday would be a big boost in confidence for Massimiliano Allegri's Milan in view of next week's Champions League showdown against Barcelona.

"The game against Barcelona will be difficult but right now our focus is only on Lazio,'' said Allegri.

"We know that every match will be more difficult than last year and in order to win, we have to play like Milan.''

The Serie A fixture list has given Lazio a tough start at the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium, where Milan only lost twice last season.

Lazio coach Edy Reja is set to hand strikers Cisse and Klose their Serie A debut against Milan.

Reja hopes the club's efforts in the transfer market this summer will help the team improve on last season's sixth-placed finish.

"Our transfer market has been extraordinary,'' admitted Reja. "Let's hope that the results come our way.

"It's only on the pitch where you see the true value of the players.

"We are more competitive than we were last year and we will go to Milan ready to play our game.

"We have to make the most of the chances that Milan give us.

"They will start strong but we have four players forward that can make a difference.''

AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic has shaken off an ankle injury and will partner Alexandre Pato in attack.