Stefano Pioli has stated Milan will need to be at the top of their game tomorrow to beat Juventus and talked about some tactical solutions in the squad.
Less than a week after the defeat against Spezia, Milan return to the (weary) San Siro pitch tomorrow to face Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus at 20:45 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:
For the fourth time in a row Milan will start playing the game when they are in front of Juventus in the standings. Is this a testament to the work you are doing?
“Yes, it’s obvious that our league position is very good as it’s also clear that Juve didn’t make a great start to the season. However, we are now facing them when they are in a good run of form. A run-of-the-mill performance won’t be enough tomorrow night, we need to produce a high-level performance but we are more capable of doing that.”
“Yes, the standings is evident, as is the fact that Juventus did not start well but now we are facing them in a moment of excellent form compared to the start of the season. A normal performance will not be enough, a high-level match will be needed. We have the skills to do it.”
Is it a key match for Milan different from the others?
“‘Turning point’ is the term you guys often use. It’s an important match, it’s definitely important, although it won’t be decisive, but it is important because Juventus are a team that are showing their form, they are unbeaten fro the last 8 or 9 matches and they’ve made up ground; they are now fifth, still behind us in the standings, and a win tomorrow would be really significant for our league position.”
How are Romagnoli, Bennacer and Calabria?
“These are three important returns, even if Bennacer trained with the team only this morning, but he’s doing well. They are fine and available. We are all ready, the same goes for Ibrahimović, for tomorrow’s match.”
Theo Hernández called you the coach who changed his career. Who do you think?
“Making the young players at your disposal is one of the coach’s tasks. They need to be followed, to receive advice and to work with attention and determination. One of my tasks is to make the players express themselves to the maximum. When we do it, we are satisfied. It’s a give-and-take relationship: give everything for the team and get great results.”
Do you like the idea of Ibrahimović as a trequartista?
“Not at the beginning of the match. It can be a solution during the game but we have our balance that is giving us satisfaction.”
What problems does Brahim Díaz have, as he shots and scores less than before?
“He had a drop in condition before the break, now he has regained sharpness and has fresh, lively legs like at the beginning of the season. He has not always been decisive with the ball in the last few games, but he has been with movements without the ball. The performances are getting better and it’s clear that from offensive players of quality you always expect a lot.”
What are the qualities with which Milan can overcome Inter and Juventus?
“I think we’ve got a lot of qualities both from a technical perspective, our mentality. We’ve got a lot of energy, a great deal of positivity. With strength, knowing we have to approach matches with great determination and conviction, keeping in mind there will be some difficulties lurking in every match, which are much easier to overcome when we play as a team.”
Is something moving in regards to the arrival of a defender after the defeat to Spezia?
“Our project is a medium-long term one, a single match does not change judgments and evaluations on players. But it’s equally true that if there is the possibility of improving the squad then we’ll do it. There is no news, only tomorrow’s match counts.”
Is Juventus’ attitude in terms of management, similar to that of Milan, good for the league?
“The economic moment that the clubs are experiencing also because of the pandemic is evident. It’s enough to look at even the reduction in fans in the games against Spezia and tomorrow to understand the loss of income. Each club needs to keep an eye on their own accounts and have their own ideas, their own planning. Our club has very clear ideas on that. We are developing our project on a mix of very talented youngsters and more experienced players who have already won trophies, with a lot of character and over time we hope to be once again very competitive in terms of winning trophies. We are competitive in terms of competing at the top of level, we’ve shown that over the last two years, but we are still missing that one last step, which we will have to take, this is our idea, and I think we have a very clear idea and and these are the right ideas in terms of the era we’re going through.”
Ibra hasn’t scored at San Siro since September: is there a tactical-technical reason for it?
“Zlatan has had his chances, he has not been able to take advantage of them. I don’t think we will have 10 scoring chances like we did against Spezia, but we will have chances tomorrow and he can be decisive.”
Do you think the referee could take the field in a no so serene manner tomorrow after what happened against Spezia?
“That doesn’t need to happen. It will be a different match, we start from 0-0. It will be an important match for our and for Juventus’ standings, the referee will have to try to officiate in the best possible way, with great seriousness, ability and serenity for these difficult commitments.”
What week was it to overcome the defeat against Spezia and what reaction do you expect?“It’s been a week of hard work, in terms of work on the pitch and in the video analysis room, to analyze a match in which we should have been more accurate and determined to make sure we kill off games because we had the opportunity to do so. So we worked hard, fully focused and what I expect tomorrow night is for my team to give 100% because if we want to strive for excellence then a normal performance won’t be enough. It will take an extraordinary effort with a great performance in terms of those components that are needed to achieve results and win the game: technical, fitness, mental and tactical.”
In the 18 games against Allegri you’ve never won. Is that an added incentive?
“I should look back too far to explain this record. Tomorrow there will be another match, it would be good to change this record immediately.”
The absence of Tonali has been felt. Is he the true future Captain of Milan?
“He is important and he is growing a lot, his improvement and maturation are not finished. He is working with determination to grow even more. As for if he’s the Captain of the present or of the future, I am fortunate to have many responsible players who are attached to what we do. It’s not important who wears the armband, but to have a responsible and cohesive group.”
Would you be happy in case no one arrives in the market for the defense?
“If there is the possibility of improving the squad, the club has always shown itself to be capable, attentive and ambitious. Then it’s clear that the mercato does not depend only on us… but I’m very happy with the players available. Tomori’s injury has put us in a bit of a difficulty for these matches, but he’ll be back soon.”
Can Leão and Rebić play together from the start?
“We are open to all solutions, but at this moment either one plays or the other plays. As the game progresses, however, there may also be different solutions.”
What difference can there be compared to the first-round match?
“In the first round it was a balanced match, no one put the other under. Also tomorrow I expect a match like this because the qualities are high, Juventus has grown but we are doing well too. We will need to fight ball for ball, centimeter for centimeter.”
How did you see the team post-Spezia?
“I’ve seen attentive and determined players. If we continue to draw parallels between last year and this year then we won’t go forward. Last year against Spezia was Milan’s worst game but this year it wasn’t like that.”
Leão said that he’s become concrete thanks to you. What do you think?
“He grew up in the availability he has given the team. We are talking about young guys who came from different experiences and different habits in terms of play and work. When there is talent and availability, however, it’s easy to achieve important results. He must not be satisfied because he can be even more decisive.”
Will Bennacer play at least part of the match tomorrow?
“He came back quite well from the Africa Cup of Nations, he’s ready and available, also to play.”
Can Messias play as a trequartista?
“Yes, but the position in which he feels best is that of the right winger of right attacking midfielder.”
Do you like the definition – taken from Pulp Fiction, of Pioli as the Problem Solver?
“Yes, I like it, it’s the coach’s job to ensure that things get better and better. Juve are doing well, they are growing: tomorrow we need a very high technical levels in our plays to find the imbalance in the defensive phase of our opponents.”
If Cuadrado were to play in attack, would it change anything in Milan’s attacking style?
“I don’t know what choices Allegri will make, we’ve prepared a strategy that will not change depending on what opponent Theo Hernandez faces.”
What was the team’s attitude after Spezia?
“It was a difficult evening, but we got through it by working, focusing on the situations where we can do better. The opponent is of the highest level, the performance will have to be at the top.”
What credit do you have in Leão’s growth?
“The credit goes to the player: the improvements come if there is the will and the self-desire to reach high levels. Then we are there available and we can’t wait for the players to try to reach an ever-higher level.”