Stefano Pioli has stated he is satisfied with the work done in the mercato, as he finds himself tomorrow against Hellas Verona without 2-3 starters.
Milan had a very positive January in terms of results on the field and they will look to extend their run into February.
Tomorrow the boys of Stefano Pioli face Hellas Verona at Stadio San Siro (15:00 CET) and it will be a test of maturity for the boys of Pioli, who will most likely have to play without Zlatan Ibrahimović.
“From a technical point of view, what do I make of the January mercato? Well first of all, I’m very happy it’s over. We handled the situation very well, we stayed focused on our job. We’ve been doing things well, we’ve been doing things the way I expected them to be done. We have a coherent, united group and now we need to work well together.
“What do I think of Hellas Verona considering they’re unbeaten in the last five games while the only goals we conceded in 2020 have been at San Siro? Verona is a team in good shape, it’s a good thing to point out Ivan Jurić’s numbers, he is doing a great job; his team plays with great determination and generosity, they’re well-positioned on the field. We had a particular week with a couple of issues, but we’re in good health. We need to face this game with the right determination and the right concentration.
“What have Milan bought in January seeing as players who were an important part of the squad over the last years, like Ricardo Rodríguez and Suso, have left? Well, I think many are underestimating that we’ve made some important signings at the start of the mercato. We brought in quality players with strong personalities. We are looking for them to give us something more in terms of personality on the field. Clearly, Ibrahimović is one of those, but Kjær and Begović have also helped out in that way. We made the signings in the right places, and then we brought in young players with good potential.
“What point in his development is Rebić in and might Çalhanoğlu be an option to replace Bennacer who is suspended for tomorrow? As far as I’m concerned, a player must always strive to improve and Rebić is a young player, he can definitely improve, especially in his movement and his timing. He can be more effective when he tries to make a decisive play. I think he has ample margins for improvement. As for Hakan, we’ll see. Tonight I’ll release the squad list, there are many things to be analyzed, we’ll also be missing some important players but the team is ready. The players called-up will do well.
“What’s going on with Paquetá and if there’s still room for him in the squad? There is nothing going on behind the scenes, Paquetá is a Milan player, he needs to do exactly what the rest of his teammates are doing. He needs to work well, work hard, be available at all times and be ready when called upon. We have many good players, everyone needs to work very hard for us to all be competitive.
“If the Champions League is still the objective as it seems Zlatan’s arrival has raised the bar? Our only objective is tomorrow’s game. It’s only by taking things one game at a time that we can improve our season and improve our position in the league. We must treat each game as if it were the most important.
“Milan seem to have found their identity and it’s important to keep this high level of performance? Clearly we have to continue working hard, continue to improve. There are many situations on the field that we need to improve on. We can be more effective on the field. But at the same time we need to maintain maximum focus and concentration. We have to be on the ball at all times in terms on concentration, attention and intensity. Games are won by recovered ball, by one duel, these are things that we definitely need to keep our attention on.
“Who is in doubt for tomorrow’s game considering I said a few moments ago that there are some problems? Well I thought I hadn’t been clear before because no one seemed to ask me about it. Kjær and Zlatan are dealing with the flu and have been for a couple of days, so they might not be available for tomorrow’s game. Krunić is also having some issues so he’s in doubt. But the team is determined to do well and that all that matters.
“Is Milan stronger now after the mercato? This is a Milan that is winning and when you are winning it’s not by chance. When I arrived, we missed out on a few results that we should have won. But that is not by chance. We have improved in our efficiency and in our finishing which is very important and that is something that we need to continue doing. The road is still very steep and very difficult to climb up, but once you get there the view is beautiful. We have to stay focused and determined to get the right results. Ibra’s replacement? What I can tell you is that 11 players will take the field and they’ll all be determined. We’re going to need to be careful and work very hard.
“The fact that Jurić sets up his team similar to Atalanta and if the Atalanta result is still a scar that the squad has yet to overcome? Well Jurić worked for Gasperini and you can see the effects. But I don’t think it’s easy to compare the two teams because they have different players with different characteristics. They do have a similar interpretation of games, but we are not the team that lost in Bergamo and now we have the chance to prove it.
“If there was a farewell for Suso and Piątek? Well, Suso greeted us with great serenity following Tuesday’s game. But I honestly didn’t see Piątek because he left very early in the morning following the game. But we haven’t had any issues, things change very quickly in football. They were very professional when they were working with me and I wish them all the best in their career.
“If without Ibra the team will continue to play with a 4-4-2 or if there will be a change in formation? We’ll see… we have positions on the field that can change depending also on our opponents and the choices I make. But I don’t believe it’s the formation that impacts results: it is quality, intensity and intelligence.
“If this will be a chance to understand if Leão can play as a prima punta? Perhaps even our opponents will have the same problem understanding it…
“The fact that Conti, Musacchio and Romagnoli are all yellow card away from a suspension with the Derby coming up next week, while Kjær is also doubtful? Kjær will not be available for tomorrow because he’s been in bed for three days with the flu. But I’m sure he’ll be available for next week. Tomorrow is an important game and we’re focused entirely on it. They’re three points we must seize so at the moment the only thing we’re thinking about is tomorrow’s game.
“The fact that Milan have not scored a single goal in the first half of the last six Serie A games? Well, at the end of the day, the most important thing is to score one goal more than opponent. I’m well-aware of these stats. Obviously, taking the lead in the first half would be a very important advantage. We need to be more intense and more aggressive at the start of the game, trying to find the lead.
“How have I managed to instill the idea of winning through suffering and winning with a comeback? Well, I’ve convinced the players that we have the quality needed and that in the tough times during the game, a team that is able to overcome these difficult moments has greater chances of winning. And when you win, it gives you a boost, it boosts your confidence and that is something we need to continue doing. We had a fantastic January but January is over now so it no longer counts. We have to important objectives to achieve. The road ahead of us is very long, there’s a lot of work needed.
“How would I grade our mercato and if the midfield and attack are not a bit light? I’m satisfied with what the club has managed to do. It’s the press who grades things. In midfield next week we’ll be recovering Biglia, so I have many options and I don’t think it’ll be an issue. In attack, Piątek has left but we signed Ibrahimović.
“We’re struggling with corner kicks? We gave not been scoring from corner kicks, that’s true. But we are becoming more dangerous form corners. We certainly are trying to maximize our set-piece taking, we have improved the average height of our team. We want to be more dangerous in those situations and we came very close to scoring. This is definitely an objective we want to achieve.”