Pioli: “We did not have the right approach to the game and it is my fault, Gabbia and Kalulu are reliable players, Tomori felt something in his knee”

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Stefano Pioli during Milan-Genoa at Stadio San Siro on January 13, 2022. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Stefano Pioli believes he didn’t prepare as team well after Milan’s 3-1 win in the Coppa Italia against Genoa.

Milan took on Genoa in the Coppa Italia Round of 16 last night and they had to play 120 minutes to beat Shevchenko’s side, who is in 19th place in Serie A.

The first half was horrible for Milan: Leo Østigård put Genoa ahead in the 16′ minute and less than 10 minutes later, Fikayo Tomori had to be replaced with a knee problem and was replaced by Alessandro Florenzi.

In the 62′ minute, coach Pioli made three substitutions, bringing on Tiémoué Bakayoko, Brahim Díaz and Rafael Leão for the disappointing Rade Krunić, Daniel Maldini and Ante Rebić. Milan looked better with the trio on the pitch and in the 74′ minute, a great Theo Hernández found the head of Olivier Giroud who scored an incredible header to beat Adrian Šemper and make things level.

The squad celebrating at the end of Milan-Genoa at Stadio San Siro on January 13, 2022. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Milan couldn’t finish off the game in 90 minutes and the match went into extra-time. The Rossoneri dominated the 30 minutes and in the 103′ minute, Rafael Leão attempted a cross which somehow turned into a golazo; 10 minutes later, a well-worked goal saw Theo finding Alexis Saelemaekers inside the box and the Belgium scored calmly to put the game to bed and make it 3-1.

The Diavolo progress to the next round of the Coppa Italia, where they’ll face the winner of Lazio-Udinese. On Monday, Milan play Spezia at Stadio San Siro.

Pierre Kalulu, Tiémoué Bakayoko and Rafael Leão celebrating during Milan-Genoa at Stadio San Siro on January 13, 2022. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

“Evidently I didn’t do a good job, because we had the wrong approach from the start,” Pioli told Sportmediaset. “If you don’t enter the field with the necessary attention then there are mistakes. We didn’t have the right determination and that is my fault. In the first half we lacked intensity, tempo and made the situation more complicated for ourselves. We wanted to get through and managed to get it back on track, so it’s important we won the game, but we’ll have to work better in future.”

On the left side compared to the right side of Milan: “I don’t think we are less strong on the right side compared to the left. I think we put in some interesting balls from the right too with Florenzi, Messias and Saelemaekers. Naturally, on the left we have different characteristics and players who are good at one-on-one situations, whereas it’s more about the movement on the right to create the space. I do think the team is balanced, but the problem today was the entire team had the wrong approach and lacked intensity. That means my preparation was not optimal and I have to do better.”

Theo Hernández and Manolo Portanova during Milan-Genoa at Stadio San Siro on January 13, 2022. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

On the many injuries: “We are coming out of it. November was very difficult with injuries and we paid a price for that, as in the long-run the same ones had to keep playing every game and got fatigued. It’s all a bit strange now with COVID, waiting for test results, but we proved once again that you can change a game with players off the bench, so the more players at our disposal, the better.”

On Tomori’s injury: “He felt a discomfort in his knee, so couldn’t carry on. Fik is a very important player for us, on Friday he’ll be checked and I hope it’s nothing serious. I hope to have him available from Monday due to the other absences.”

Fikayo Tomori leaving the pitch during Milan-Genoa at Stadio San Siro on January 13, 2022. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Speaking to Sky Italia, Pioli said: “I am not satisfied with my work, if the whole team lacks the approach to the match then it means that the coach was not good at stimulating them from a mental point of view. In the first half we struggled and played without rhythm, we deservedly conceded. Then the fact that we reacted well is true and it’s a sign of important growth from the character and mental aspects of the team.”

On who wins: “The one who is more attentive, who believes more and is more convinced – has the more chances of winning. I’m not only disappointed with my players but I’m disappointed because I thought I had prepared the team well and I didn’t succeed there.”

Rafael Leão celebrating during Milan-Genoa at Stadio San Siro on January 13, 2022. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

On Tomori: “He felt something strange in his knee, let’s wait a couple of days for more diagnosis and we all hope to have him on Monday, we have a somewhat limited department in terms of numbers.”

On the welcome of the Milan fans to Shevchenko: “It wasn’t only to Sheva, but also to Tassotti. We are talking about players and people who have helped make the history of Milan and have won many things. We continue with our performances, but we’ll try to fill that small gap to bring Milan back to winning.”

Olivier Giroud celebrating during Milan-Genoa at Stadio San Siro on January 13, 2022. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

In an interview with MilanTV, the coach said: “I thought I had done a good job in the pre-match but I did not, because I hadn’t prepared the team well; psychologically speaking, we didn’t have the right approach to the game and when we fail to dictate our tempo and play a compact game difficulties arise. We did very to put the game back on track, to believe and win a tough game, for sure. We wanted to go through to the next round and we did so. A lot of good things, but we can do better.”

On the Coppa Italia: “In this competition, you need four games to make it to the Final, which would be very important. Our approach should have been different, recently we’ve always had the right approach and not having managed to do so today, will serve us a lesson to do better.”

On Kalulu and Florenzi: “Overall, it’s a positive performance both for the quality we showed and the spirit and soul of this team, which is what we need and have to show on the field. Especially Pierre is proving to be a very reliable player, always ready and concentrated: he has to keep it up because we need him.”

Milan fans during Milan-Genoa at Stadio San Siro on January 13, 2022. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Pioli also held a post-match press conference: “It’s clear that I didn’t like the way the team played in the first half; I wasn’t able to stimulate and motivate the team as I thought I’d done. The approach was strangely not the right one and that’s how things got complicated. We remained lucid, we changed pace, rhythm and quality of play and we won a game that had turned difficult.”

How did the Tomori injury happen?
“He didn’t have any twists, sprains or direct trauma. While running he felt something weird in his knee and didn’t feel like continuing. Tests will be done in the next few days.”

Stefano Pioli, Alexis Saelemaekers, Brahim Díaz and Rafael Leão celebrating at the end of Milan-Genoa at Stadio San Siro on January 13, 2022. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Will the performances of Gabbia and Kalulu change anything from a mercato perspective?
“They are convincing us that they are very reliable players, to be considered starters at Milan.”

The San Siro pitch is suffering…
“It was very important to pass the round, winning while suffering will help us grow in a positive way. As for the condition of the pitch, technical and more attentive teams know how to manage situations well even on a non-ideal pitch; we must be prepared for this point of view as well.”

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Amos K. Dennis

Thanks, Sir