Stefano Pioli has said ‘this performance must boost our confidence and conviction’ after earning a draw against Juventus at the Allianz Stadium.
Milan took on Juventus away from home on Sunday evening and found a very difficult challenge from all points of view.
The Rossoneri were missing key players due to injury and looked physically drained for the majority of the game. However, they still managed to fight for 93 minutes, showing great metal qualities.
Álvaro Morata scored in the 4th minute, beating Mike Maignan finishing off a Juve counter following a failed Milan corner drill. But Ante Rebić (76′) equalized with a header from a Sandro Tonali cross. Milan had chances to win the game, primarily through Pierre Kalulu, but only got a point.
At the end of the match, Coach Stefano Pioli spoke to the press to give his thoughts on the game:
“We came here to win the game. Juventus did better in the first 20 minutes, were more determined and focused, but we continued playing. We improved, in the second half we were definitely much better,” he told DAZN. “We tried to win the game so it was overall a positive performance.
On Rebić: “I give him credit every day. He has immense intensity and quality, can play in more or less any role and helped out today with Giroud and Ibra out. I think he is a very important player for us and can really help us to break games open too.”
On how much Milan missed an offensive player like Ibra or Giroud: “We didn’t have an inferior performance compared to the previous games, you have to take the value of the opponents into consideration. We were up against Juventus, so Dybala, Morata, Alex Sandro, Cuadrado, Bonucci, and Chiellini. We played good football. We conceded a goal where we made too many naïve mistakes, which allowed Juve to defend deep and counter in the first half. We were not lacking in ideas; as always, Milan do not lack desire, character, determination and grit, so we continued seeking the victory throughout the match and this is important.”
On if Milan had difficulties with the movements of Rabiot: “Yes, Juventus worked very well down the right, so the collaboration between Saelemaekers and Tomori in certain cases should’ve been better. We didn’t start well, we could have done something more but it is also true Juve deserve credit for escaping our initial press and that opens up the spaces.”
On if the team is more aware: “I agree, that’s also what I told the team: we have to be aware. Maybe last season we needed to not exactly hope in a miracle to win this game, but certainly hope for some luck. Instead this year we know that we can win these matches. Now we must be aware that we’re at this level and must go for the victory to the very end. I liked that courage, we were ready to risk defeat in order to push for the win. I just want to make a note that people say Italian teams struggle in Europe because of the tempo. I will say today we had 48 minutes of actual football played. There are too many gaps, too much arguing, too much waiting around, too many free kicks, too many stoppages. 48 minutes of real playing time are too few, this matches the difference in Europe. We need to improve this all together or we will inevitably struggle when entering a different atmosphere.”
On how happy he is with the growth of the younger players: “I’m very happy with these situations, I’ve always noticed great willingness and desire to overcome difficult moments, even individual ones. They are tenacious and quality youngsters, when you work with this dedication then the satisfactions come.”
On if he would’ve taken Morata down with a foul in the third minute: “I would’ve have taken him down [laughs]…”
Speaking to MilanTV, Pioli said: “We are a strong team and tonight’s performance must boost our confidence and conviction. Juventus started off better than us, and then we gifted a goal to our opponents. Those are situations we absolutely must read better because they’re mistakes too grave to make at our level. However, the team fought for the entire match, against a strong opponent so some struggling is to be expected but what counts is that, through our play and intensity, we tried to win the game until the final whistle. That’s what matters.”
On the playing time lost during the game: “We often wonder why we struggle against contentedly opponents, we struggle with the tempo and intensity, and tonight’s 48 minutes of actual play are too few. We need to improve our attitudes on the field, the protests and getting back up more quickly, as we as fewer referee calls, but there are too many interruptions on the field. We need to play more, 48 minutes are too few. I’m talking about the show, for the fans who come to the stadium. We must find a solution because we end up running into problems because we’re not used to playing so many minutes with such intensity.”
On the many absences and what could have been with a full squad: “These setbacks have deprived me of the possibility of rotating some players. I could have had some more effective changes in terms of characteristics. How the game starts is important but what matters more that Milan create and play over the 95 minutes. Now, things start to get challenging. Following such a delicate week, an important week to the prestige of our opponents: Lazio, Liverpool in our first Champions League match, and tonight Juventus; we face two difficult matches next, this is when we must prove we have become a great team. These are the games which will be hardest to face and to win.”
Pioli also held a post-match press conference: “The team played for the whole game, we committed a great naiveté on their goal. The team grew in the second half and in the complete development of the match, the team had a great match.”
With this spirit Milan is hard to beat…
“I agree but we must also add the quality of the team. In moments of difficulty, however, surely the spirit helps you. There are still many situations in which we can do better but also many in which we are already competitive.”
Where can you improve?
“Also in the defeat against Liverpool we showed that we have important qualities. With the full squad, the group is strong and I think we can play any match. Last year against stronger opponents we were hoping to win – now we are convinced we can do it. This has not been the most difficult week, I knew the team would hold up. Now we need to show our strength against Venezia and Spezia.”
The moment of Rebić?
“He is a very available guy who combines quality and intensity. He has hunger inside that helps the team in difficult moments.”
The performance of Kessié?
“He was very active on Bentancur. He had a particular summer, playing a lot at the Olympic Games. Slowly, he is getting to his best form.”
A comment on Brahim Díaz’s game?
“Brahim is growing as the team is growing, he has quality, he is working a lot and also tonight’s performance was positive.”
Is the standings already starting to take shape?
“We are only on the fourth Matchday, there is time for everyone to improve the standings. We are satisfied with what we have done.”