Newcastle’s manager Eddie Howe and Italy international Sandro Tonali—in his return to Milan after signing with NUFC this summer—were the two members of the Magpie contingent present at the Champions League conference room ahead of the clash between both sides on Tuesday.
Here is a little, tidy recap of what Howe and Tonali had to say 24 hours before the hyper anticipated return of Newcastle to the Champions League.
Flight Delays and Wetherspoons
One of the main talking points was the delay in the team’s arrival in Milan due to unfavorable weather conditions. Howe downplayed the issue, stating, “It’s part and parcel of the job we do. This was a weather problem, but we’ve been in similar situations in the past. Apologies for being late.”
It is worth noting that it was Howe’s decision to delay the flight as much as possible, holding the final training session ahead of the game at St James’ Park instead of at San Siro to prevent Milan from trying to steal any little detail from Newcastle’s gameplan.
Tonali lightened the mood by sharing a humorous story about his night out at Wetherspoons with his family after the Villa game, noting that he didn’t receive the answer he expected when asking about restaurants or bars in Milan. “I spent the night in a pub with my family. It was a special night,” Tonali chuckled.
Tonali’s Return to Milan
The Italy international captained AC Milan before arriving in Newcastle this summer and he revealed that his transfer to NUFC happened in lightning-quick fashion during the U21 Euros held in July. “I was overwhelmed because I was playing for Italy. I have found a wonderful team and a wonderful staff,” Tonali explained. “In these two months, I’ve seen the whole team working non-stop. 24/7 at the training ground, and football is like that. You have to accept new challenges.”
Tonali also touched upon the emotions he expects to feel during the match: “I think I’m going to feel the emotion tomorrow at 90 percent. Today it’s at 10 percent. They’re special emotions, and I’ll remember them forever. This is the team I support and the team that gave me a chance to succeed.”
Expectations for the Game
When asked about their expectations for the game, both Howe and Tonali emphasized their desire to be competitive and showcase their style of play on continental grounds.
“We want to do as well as we can. We want to be very competitive. We want to show our style of play. First and foremost, the competitive nature in our game has to be there,” stated Howe.
Tonali echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the importance of responding to Milan’s intensity during the match, one he knows very well given his time spent with the club in years past. “Tomorrow’s game will be intense. A tight game. We want to respond to the intensity Milan will display,” Tonali said.
Newcastle’s late arrival in Milan may have caused some disruption, but the Magpies remain focused on the task at hand and are ready to compete on the grand stage of European football once again.
- Date: Tuesday, September 19th
- Kick-off: 17:45 BST / 12:45 EST
- Location: San Siro, Milan (Italy)