AC Milan defender Cristian Zapata has admitted he misjudged Sinisa Mihajlovic earlier in the season and backed the club to continue its resurgence under the Serbian coach when Torino visit San Siro on Saturday.
Four defeats in the opening seven Serie A outings of 2015-16 threatened to derail Mihajlovic’s first campaign in charge, but he has since taken the Rossoneri on a run of 19 league games in which they have lost only twice.
Milan drew 1-1 at Torino in October, but Zapata is confident of taking maximum points from the return fixture, with the club in much better shape than it was.
“It was difficult at first, but now we are united and it shows,” Zapata told Milan Channel.
“The group is much better than it was at the beginning of the season and we are all in tune. We must improve many things, but we are on the right track.”
On his early judgments of Mihajlovic, Zapata said: “In the first few games I wrong, perhaps because of some personal problem.
“Now I have resolved these situations and tranquillity has returned to me – and it shows in recent matches.
“He is tough and has his own ideas. We all respect him. This is important for the group.”
Milan are sixth in Serie A after winning four of their last seven league games, and Zapata was more than satisfied with the point gained from a 1-1 draw at Napoli in their last outing, in which he successfully kept 24-goal striker Gonzalo Higuain at bay.
Zapata reflected on his performance, saying: “I’m happy stopping Higuain and about the result in Naples. I am keeping my feet on the ground, but I feel I played well in that match.
“We must continue to work. If I am at the top of my concentration, it is difficult for my opponent to run away.”
Milan midfielder Juraj Kucka is nearing his return to fitness from a hamstring injury following a personalised training programme, but the visit of Torino comes too soon for him. Centre-back Alessio Romagnoli completed a full week of training after being an unused substitute against Napoli, and is back in contention for a place in the starting line-up.
Torino coach Giampiero Ventura is waiting on the results of late fitness tests for centre-back Cesare Bovo and defensive midfielder Alessandro Gazzi, as he looks to improve on a run of form that has included only one win in his side’s last seven games.
Key Opta stats:
– Milan are unbeaten in 16 Serie A clashes against Torino (W9, D7) –Torino’s last win in the fixture came in November 2001.
– Torino have not won at San Siro against AC Milan in Serie A since March 1985 – since then, the Rossoneri have won 13 times, conceding just six goals.
– Milan are unbeaten in eight Serie A games (W4, D4), scoring at least once in each match.
– Torino have won only one of their last seven Serie A matches (D4 L2).
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