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Coco: «Pippo can beat them»

(article from Tuttosport 26-4-2006, translation by Kim)

The Livorno defender has played for Milan aswell as Barcelona.

«To beat Barca you need to be patient. Inzaghi’s return on the pitch will be fundamental.» Coco was an important player in the Milanese victory over FC Barcelona in 2000 played in Camp Nou. He scored a goal and made an assist for a Bierhoff goal. «That was the best night of my career. Milan can continue their good football.»

MILANO. A header accurate to the millimetre and a cross from the left to Oliver Bierhoff. Francesco Coco played a big part in Milan’s victory over Barcelona on  26 settember  2000, the last and only victory of Milan in Camp Nou.

Coco, what memories do you have of that match? «On a personal level I think that will always be one of the greatest achievements of my carrer. I was decisive for the end score with my goal in the 10th minute and my assist. But we only finished the job after 90 minutes.In the dressing room I understood that I had a crucial role in the victory.» That was without a doubt his best season with Milan.« Yes, but even so if you ask me the most positive year of my careeer was my year at Barcelona. In that season, with Zaccheroni I had my break-through. ». With my goal in Camp Nou he convinced the Catalans to try and get him on their team. «Yes, in the end I had amazed them. I loved it in Spain, I played at a very high level and it will always be one of the most important experiences of my life.»

What in Barcelona was different than in Italy ?  «The way in which they approach football. Like in the rest of Spain, they see football just as a game, and Barcelona-Milan will be just a matct not a battle. Whereas in italy they experience a match with anxiety and put a lot of pressure on the players. In Barcelona it was different, for them playing well, having a good time and watching a spectacle is like a religion. Like the fact that they’ve never had a shirtsponsor, they’re the only ones in the world who can say that.»

Is Barca the Milan of Spain?« I’m not sure of that, because I haven’t played at Real Madrid but the atmosphere at Barcelona is amazing. They teach you that the most important thing is show everywhere and always. When I was in Spain we played against real several times, 2 in the Primera Division and 2 in the Champions League. They were stronger than us but in all 4 games we had the better game.i»  So you don’t expect Barca will play all’italiana against Milan, waiting for them to attack? «Absolutely not. Barca will attack because that is what the public at Camp Nou wants to see. They’ll do just that, but not 100%. Still, they have the best result to start from in this match.». Can Milan come back from the 0-1 loss at home? «Of course.Milan is a great team. They team that plays the best football in Italy and in Europe, just as Barcelona. Milan is a lot like the Spaniards, because unlike Juve or Inter they’ve always had a better technique. The Rossoneri have the quality and the strength to win at Camp Nou.»

How should you approach the match?« Milan should be patient, like we were in 2000 when we played Barca. They should adjust to Barca and to Camp nou which is a much bigger field. 20 minutes to understand their tactic and to get used to their surroundings, then they should try to make it their game. In the end 0-1 is not the end of the world, they only need 1 goal to make it a draw.». Who will be the decisive player? «The return of Inzaghi will be important, because Pippo is a player who will punish them even if they make just 1 mistake. He’s a real terror for every defence.But I think not the individuals, but the team as a whole will be important. During the match at Milan the stabile facors on the midfield Pirlo and Seedorf didn’t produce anything useful and Kaka only woke up during the last 20 minutes of the match.i»

Who will you support? «I don’t know. I would’ve been pleased to see them play the final against each other. I will definitely enjoy watching the match on tv, I hope I will get to see a great match.»