Stefano Pioli has spoken ahead of tomorrow’s game against Genoa, which will be held behind closed doors.
Despite the turmoil in management and the fact that Milan have not played since February 22, the season in Italy is still in progress – even though there will be no fans in the stands until the start of April.
Tomorrow at 15:00 CET, the Rossoneri play Genoa in an empty Stadio San Siro. Today, Pioli and the team trained in the stadium as they are preparing for a difficult game in a surreal environment, which is of course the result of the Coronavirus outbreak in Italy.
Pioli had an interview with MilanTV today, which you can read below:
Finishing touches at San Siro: “To get used to what it will be like tomorrow, we are not used to playing in such a situation but it must not become an excuse. Unfortunately, this is an emergency and we have to show we have great mental strength and concentration, knowing our fans won’t be in the stands, but will all be watching us on TV and it would be important, especially at this time, to entertain them for a couple of hours, to make them happy.”
Full focus on Genoa: “We have to be! We prepared very well for this game, working with focus and determination, knowing the importance of getting back to winning ways and to be back playing in the league, there’s still a long time but we have to climb back up in the table and do it fast and tomorrow we have to play well.”
The board’s support: “The board has always backed me and supported me, and at Milanello we are all working, fully concentrated, we’re all very calm and we have all the necessary means to do a good job which is what we’re doing and have to keep doing because we have to concentrate on what’s in our hands and we can’t find any excuse in things that happen and don’t depend on us. We’re 100 percent focused, motivated and we want to do well.”
How has the team prepared: “I’ve seen great spirit and concentration at Milanello, the boys know how important tomorrow’s game is; for the Club, for our future and for the final rush of the season. We have lots to give still, the team is fit and we have to show we’re up to the task, to have that sense of belonging, knowing we’re part of a great club.”
Our opponent: “By changing coach, Genoa have turned the tide, they are fighting for an important objective as we are, and we also have important objectives to achieve. Genoa come from a defeat, although against Lazio who are doing great, and even troubled them. They’d won their previous two games, so we are facing a team in good shape, physically fit, well-positioned on the pitch, who play with teamwork, so we have to put in a quality performance, with great concentration because it’s going to be a peculiar game but it’s the mentality, the desire to always stay focused, attention to details that can make the difference, and that’s where we have to do better than our opponents.”
Nicola’s Genoa: “Your opponent’s formation and the players’ characteristics determine your strategy, and Nicola is doing a really good job, which is not easy as they’re fighting with other good teams to stay up. At the same time, we’ve worked on our game, on our positioning on the field and how to create chances because we have all it takes to play the type of game we want to, trying to control and dominate, knowing that anything can happen in a game but we have to be mentally ready, play with personality and take advantage of any situation.”
Home form: “To improve our standings we have to do better than we did in the first half of the season, we have to do more and what I’ve been telling my players for a few weeks now is that the time we have ahead of us seems a lot, but it’ll fly by, and we have to take advantage of the moment, we have to be fully focused on tomorrow’s performance and tomorrow’s result because we have the opportunity to reach other teams ahead of us, who aren’t playing tomorrow and it’s a really good opportunity and we can’t miss it.”
Ibrahimović: “Coaching Zlatan is something really stimulating and motivating for myself, for his teammates to work with him. Zlatan is a really determined and has that hunger to show his qualities, that desire to win and keep doing things with that touch of perfection and that ambition to excel. That’s the same mentality Milan need, and we have to achieve something really important because what we’ve done up to now has made it possible for the team to improve, but if we want to leave our mark and build something for the future it’s the right time to insist doing it with the same mentality Zlatan has every day and that the whole team is having every day because I see my team very concentrated, determined and hungry and these are the characteristics we need tomorrow.”
Begović’s and Kjær’s contribution: “The winter transfer market has improved our squad, not just in terms of the qualities on the field which is what one notices most during the game on Sundays but it’s what’s behind – training, professionalism, culture, attention to details, doing everything with great care – that makes the difference. And these two players are surely two quality players and men, they are two great professionals that have helped the team.”
The fan’s support in spirit: “There’s no doubt about it, our fans have always been by our side, especially in hard times. They’ll be surely watching the game on TV, hoping that their team make them happy during these difficult days. Therefore, we still feel the support of our fans, although we would have preferred playing in front of them.”