MILAN (AP) — Much of the attention will be focused off the field when Monza takes on defending champion AC Milan in Serie A on Saturday.
There will be familiar faces in the directors’ box at San Siro as Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani return to the club they led to 29 trophies in 31 years.
Berlusconi bought Monza in 2018 and installed Adriano Galliani as CEO — reuniting the duo that found success at Milan until Berlusconi sold the Rossoneri in 2017.
“It will be hard to go to the right locker room,” Galliani said.
“I’m doing mental yoga now because I will have the cameras on me for 90 minutes. I’ve been working for a few days to be immune to any emotion, or at least to try. I will let myself go from the next match, I can’t do it in Milan-Monza.
“I hope to be able to stay still and motionless no matter what happens on the field, every time the referee blows his whistle, I will not move anything.”
After a poor start to its first ever season in the Italian top-flight, Monza has hauled itself out of the bottom three with a run that was sparked by an improbable win over Juventus, in coach Raffaele Palladino’s first match in charge.
It’s a far cry from when 86-year-old Berlusconi and 78-year-old Galliani first took control of Monza, with the club languishing in the third division.
But Galliani, who was born in the city of Monza, revealed in an interview with DAZN that even that was emotional.
“After the period at Milan,” Galliani said, “some Serie C presidents would say to me, ‘How can you come to these stadiums after you’ve spent your life at Camp Nou or Santiago Bernabeu?’ Monza is the team of my heart and of my city, the team that I have supported since I was five. This is the dream of my life: Whether it is in Serie D, C, B or A does not detract anything from my passion.
“Serie A, of course, is something incredible, but my passion is independent of the league we’re in. When I see that Milan, Monza, Napoli are on the same list of teams in the league, I still don’t believe it. It is a lifelong dream that has come true.”
Monza lost its first five matches in Serie A before picking up its first point, so it was little surprise when the club fired coach Giovanni Stroppa. Eyebrows were raised, however, when it was announced that his replacement would be youth squad coach Palladino, who had never managed a team in a senior match.
But Monza followed up that historic win over Juventus with two more victories — without conceding a goal — before losing at Empoli 1-0 last weekend. It also beat in-form Udinese in the Italian Cup on Wednesday.
“He (Palladino) did well with the junior teams, then with the under-19 squad, and the president and I thought he could also do it in the first team,” Galliani said. “Nine points in four matches, but let’s not say anything . . .”
Monza has climbed to 14th place, five points above the relegation zone. Milan is third and would top Serie A with a win as Napoli and Atalanta do not play until Sunday.
“The important thing is not to finish in the bottom three,” Galliani said. “It is the first year ever in Serie A.
“Milan-Monza at San Siro … Serie A … for me it is a dream, it is my life that will be in front of me on Saturday evening.”
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