Sinisa Mihajlovic says ‘now this is my team with my physiognomy’ as Milan got an important point from a very difficult match against Napoli.
Napoli were the dominant side but Sinisa Mihajlovic’s game plan worked as the Rossoneri managed to escape Stadio San Paolo with a hard-fought point.
Lorenzo Insigne scored first as his shot hit Ignazio Abate and took a deflection to beat Gianluigi Donnarumma. But right before half-time, Giacomo Bonaventura got the equalizer. The Rossoneri – especially Cristian Zapata and Abate – looked great in defense last night and didn’t allow Napoli to score the second and Miha is pleased.
“We knew that we were going to be in for a difficult game, but we came here wanting to come away with a positive result,” Sinisa said. “From their previous 12 matches at home this season, Napoli have won 10 and drawn 2. They have proved themselves to be the strongest team in the league, alongside Juventus.
“We gave a great defensive performance. We didn’t perform as well in attack, but Napoli also deserve credit for that. I think a draw is the right result. We did well to close down the spaces, it is no easy task trying to stop Napoli’s attack, but we did very well. I’m not just referring to our four defenders, but also our midfield and attack. Only by giving everything, you can come away with a result at the San Paolo.
“From the first seven matches of the season, we collected just 9 points. From the same number of matches in the second half of the campaign, we have already collected 15. We have improved in terms of our performances and results. We are a different side and one that is hard to beat and that is playing well.
“Riccardo Montolivo? He made a few more mistakes than usual, but if you come away with a positive result from Naples, it means the whole team has played well. With the old formation, we struggled to defend and attack. Since changing the formation, we have lost just twice from 12 games.
“Balotelli still needs to improve on his match-fitness. He is training well and I hope that the other players who are still lacking in match fitness, such as Menez and Boateng, can get back in top-shape soon because they can be decisive for us. By giving them playing time they’ll get back in top-shape. They are important.”
Speaking to Mediaset Premium, Mihajlovic added: “We knew it would be difficult to get a result here but we succeeded in the end. Napoli dominated the game and took the initiative, as they had to, while we tried to hurt them with as many counter-attacks as possible. This is the way we had to prepare the game, as we could do nothing else. The team deserves congratulations. With this focus we can fight for third place.
“The 1-1? When you can’t win, it’s important not to lose. After losing 4-0 in the first round it was important to redeem ourselves. Napoli were undoubtedly a little tired too after a big game against Villarreal on Thursday. Fortunately we only play once a week, so we can prepare well in training.
“I think the whole team, defensively, did well. Higuain didn’t have a playable ball. The two strikers and two wingers sacrificed a lot. Now we’re a tough team to beat. We conceded a goal due to a deflected shot but we drew. The goal conceded? It was a deflected shot that entered at the edge of the post.
“If Gigio Donnarumma couldn’t save it then no one could. If we continue like this in the next 12 games then we can make it to the Champions League. The results tell us that we’ve earned 15 points in 7 games, more than 2 points per match. There it’s a team that, if continues like this, can fight for the UCL.
“Menez and Boateng? Boa is ahead in terms of fitness while Menez and Balotelli must improve on that. Today I had to choose between Boateng and Menez and I believe that Jeremy can help us in the final sprint of the season. Bacca was angry after the substitute? It’s better this way. Bacca is a key player.”
In an interview with Rai Italia, the Serbian coach said: “We came here to bring home points and we knew it wouldn’t be easy but my boys were brave and tough, the way I like it. Now this is my team with my physiognomy, which it is a team that is able to react and I’m very happy for the boys, it wasn’t easy.
“From the first match against Napoli to this game we only lost twice against Juventus and Bologna, the latter a match that if it was played 10 times we’d win every time. The situation with the President? We’ll see if both sides are happy at the end of the season and if they are then we’ll continue. My goal though is to stay at Milan because it’s a great opportunity and I will never stop thanking the President.
“If it’s easier for Milan to reach third than it is for Napoli to win the title? I’m not very good in math… Looking at the table I’d say Napoli but everything can still happen.”