Pioli: “All we have done so far has been laying the foundations, we need to play with simplicity, Maignan will start tomorrow, Tomori back on Wednesday”

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Stefano Pioli during a press conference at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

Stefano Pioli has spoken ahead of the Sassuolo game tomorrow, confirming the return of Mike Maignan and Rafael Leão.

After beating Atlético Madrid 1-0 at Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday, Milan return to Serie A and they’ll look to bounce back from their defeat to Fiorentina last week, when they host Sassuolo at Stadio San Siro (15:00 CET).

Today, coach Pioli held a press conference at Milanello, where he answered the various questions of the journalists, from Mauro Suma, through Sky and Milannews.it, and even questions from Twitch:

How are Maignan and Tomori doing?
“Mike is fine, he started working with the team on Saturday. He is ready, he has sped up [his recovery] a lot because he has a great mentality. He will play tomorrow. Tătăruşanu did well in his absence and I’m happy with him but Mike is back from tomorrow. As for Tomori, he is better but he is not ready for tomorrow, he should be called-up for next Wednesday.”

Fikayo Tomori during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

Beyond the fairytale – what can you tell us about Messias?
“Messias has shown it in a preview – but he is showing it to me in all of his training sessions – that he has quality. It’s a good story but not a fairytale because he is here due to the fact that he has the qualities to be with us. He will give us satisfaction. He had difficulties at the beginning because of injuries. Today I had the team review the goal [against Atlético Madrid] because it is important to know how to take simple touches and flood the penalty area and he did it very well.”

Can Leão play?
“Rafael is fine, he hadn’t fully recovered for Madrid after cramping up in Florence but he is available to play tomorrow.”

Junior Messias during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

There’s great euphoria after Madrid… could it be a way to reset everything after the Fiorentina defeat?
“Small and mid-size teams are satisfied after a great match and then they go into the next game with a bit of overconfidence. The good teams build on a good performance to go even stronger. We lost our last league game; we’re still level at the top but we could be clear. Tomorrow, we have the chance to get back to winning ways in Serie A.

As a coach, for Italy, is it better to face Cristiano Ronaldo or Çalhanoğlu?
“I cheer for Italy, they have all the qualities, from what Mancini and the players have shown, to get to the World Cup. We all have to cheer for Italy. Italy will play to win because they have the right values, we’ll cheer for them.”

Sandro Tonali during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

Did you talk to the club about future plans following the renewal?
“The club and I have the same objectives and the same ambitions: we want to bring Milan back to the competitions where they deserve to be, to become competitive again, to win the Scudetto and to return to the top in Europe. A process of growth that will continue with players with prospects, of a certain level, who can grow with us and who will give us satisfaction.”

What mistakes were made in Firenze and how will you manage Ibrahimović with the injuries of Giroud and Rebić?
“The team has always shown great balance, we know that we made mistakes in Firenze which influenced the final outcome but the performance was a good one. In my opinion on Wednesday in Madrid we did one thing well: we played simple without giving the ball away cheaply. Tomorrow will be another game in which we should make easy plays with simplicity, consistency and speed. Sassuolo have always created difficulties for us, they are fast and we will have to put in a high-level performance to win. As for Ibra, in the next five games, in the roles in which we are in a bit of a difficulty, I will have to try to manage situations in the best possible way and try to have the team perform well. On Wednesday, whoever came in did very well. It’s not important who plays, but the attitude does. The quality is there, if the players are here it’s because they are ready to play important matches.”

Theo Hernández, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Junior Messias during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

Could it be Pellegri’s moment?
“He is doing well, physically he is fine and he has always trained. He had a few ailments but he got over it. He’s a clever guy, who understands that his time will come and he’ll be ready.”

How is Bakayoko doing in light of the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations where Bennacer and Kessié play in January?
“He is certainly doing better, he had difficulties at the beginning because he arrived with a less than optimal condition. He is a strong player who I really like. He’s got a great personality, is really physical and progressive with the ball. It’s clear that I can be safe in my choices in midfield became I have a lot of quality options; they will all get to play in the coming games. As for the Africa Cup of Nations, from here to January there are still many games to go, but we will also be ready to face the emergency in January.”

Tiémoué Bakayoko during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

How is Rebić doing?
“As the exams progress we will have more precise timing. Ante is important, but it’s important to have balance, clear ideas and know how to exploit the different characteristics of the players. The important thing is that there are always the right combinations to have a proactive and more dangerous team than that of the opponents.”

If we were in the future, how do you imagine the years from here to that moment?
“I believe that all we have done so far has been laying the foundations. Now we have to try to raise the level and become even more competitive. What I like is the harmony with the club, directors, players and the environment, which allows us to always give the maximum. It is important to have care and passion for what we do, when we go on the pitch it’s important to have the desire to win every match.”

The squad during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

What do you think of new colleagues like Alessio Dionisi?
“They have clear ideas and have already won things in the lower league; winning gives you values. They are a new important asset, young coaches who are always there pushing and we have to stick to the desire to improve and have curiosity, there is always a way to improve.”

Is this team capable of aiming for the 20th Scudetto?
“It is normal that it is the winning that makes the difference, I know it and my players know it. This is why we are trying to raise our level of mentality and quality. On Wednesday we demonstrated that we have excellent tactical, mental and technical qualities. We had a very high mental intensity against an opponent who makes this thing – fighting for very ball as if it were the decisive one – their strong point. In my head there is the dream of winning because we are at Milan and Milan is Milan.”

Stefano Pioli during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

Could Saelemaekers play on the left?
“Having very flexible players gives us many solutions. The 5 substitutions change the interoperations of games: now it’s not only necessary to have a Plan A, but also a Plan B and Plan C. Now you change characteristics and positions to put the opponents in difficulty. This new structure of substitutions is a factor.”

Will the 1v1 be decisive against Sassuolo?
“Yes, but they always are. Whoever wins the most duels in the end has the best chance of winning the game. Attention and intensity make the difference.”

How do you beat the squad of Dionisi?
“By trying to be compact, fast and precise especially from a technical point of view.”

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