Stefano Pioli has spoken ahead of tomorrow’s game against Lazio and said ‘we must always have a fire burning in our hearts but ice running through our veins’ in the last 5 matches.
After losing 3-0 in the Derby in the Coppa Italia semi-final on Tuesday, Milan return to Serie A and they take on Lazio at Stadio Olimpico at 20:45 CET. The Rossoneri know they have to win in order to keep their Scudetto hopes alive.
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:
Do you need to look at the standings to get fired up?
“I do it but it’s not necessary. We are fully aware of the process we’re undertaking. Aware of the period we are going through. A period that is galvanizing, rousing… it’s the most exciting period we could experience: five games to go and we’re in the title race. We are fully motivated and focused on tomorrow’s match.”
There will be a great exodus of Milan fans in Rome…
“I feel like saying that our fans have already won the Scudetto, they are the absolute best. The best because they always embrace us, stimulate us and motivate us. Their passion gives us energy. Having so many of them with us tomorrow can only give an extra push.”
Will Ibrahimović and Rebić be there?
“Zlatan is the beacon for this team: the strength of his will is unbreakable. The work he is doing to try to be available and help the team at the moment is exceptional. He trained well yesterday and today, so he’ll clearly be traveling with us. And fortunately Ante is feeling well. We are ready for tomorrow’s match.”
What is your comment on the rumours of the possible change in ownership? Is it an important moment?
“We are facing an important moment in the league campaign, there is a very present and close ownership. The present is very solid. As for the future, it’s not a question for me.”
What kind of team is Lazio?
“We face a team with a very high attacking potential: clearly Immobile is the main threat but they have other quality players too. They’re a well-coached side and we’ll need to perform to the best of our ability; if we manage to control possession well, then we can create important chances. But we’ll have to manage the ball well against a team that presses very well. All the injuries we’ve had until mid-season did not allow us to rotate. What we did until a minute ago doesn’t count for anything, we are focused on tomorrow night.”
Would it be right to play the last few Matchdays at the same time?
“I honestly think that in the last few Matchdays, if it will still be so balanced, then it would have been right to play the games at the same time. There is no point talking about things that I cannot control, no one has asked for my opinion on this.”
Is there a Rebić case?
“There is no case, Ante suffers from tendonitis in his knee that wakes up every now and then. In the pre-match warm-up [in the Derby] he had already felt something and then in the half-time break he tried again but he couldn’t. Fortunately it only took two days of therapy and physiotherapy, and he is ready to give something like the others.”
If it is said that at the end of the season, the referring errors and favors balance themselves out, then what must happen between now and the end of the year for your account to be balanced?
“In the question there is also my answer… in the last 5 games something must happen that has not happened up to now.”
How are the difficulties of the attack explained according to you?
“We’ve scored less than we should have. Our numbers of dangerous chances have always been very high, our effectiveness less so. We should not forget that we are first or second in the standings and that in the second half of the season, together with Juventus, we are the team that has won the most points. So a certain value has always been there. We want to stay there until the end and win.”
Do Inter have something more than Milan and vice-versa?
“I don’t know and that’s not what we should be interested in, we must try to have something more than our opponents of tomorrow. We will find a very motivated team, like all our opponents. Let’s focus on what we can change or determine, which is tomorrow’s game.”
What is the physical shape of today’s Milan?
“Excellent, the physical form is very good and we are certainly doing well. In the first round against Lazio we played well at an aggressive and technical level. This is what we must try to repeat.”
How important is it to return to the pitch after the Derby?
“It’s very important, we know that the closer we get to the end of the season, the more the result weights. It’s not important if the team is disappointed or whatever, it’s the game tomorrow that is important and we’ve prepared for it in the best way possible.”
Tactically, can it be important that you play 3 of the last 5 games away from home?
“I don’t think it will make much of a difference. The motivations, the qualities and the state of the team will make the difference, and also playing with absolute determination.”
Milan have often suffered from high and aerially good players like Milinković-Savić. Do you have Romagnoli in mind? Or Kessié as a trequartista?
“The quality of someone like Milinković-Savić is an asset for Lazio, yes. We have always worked on him with a midfielder of certain characteristics and we could do it also tomorrow.”
What can the difference be between last year’s 3-0 Derby defeat in the league and the last on in the Coppa Italia?
“Losing the Derby was certainly disappointing, and it definitely didn’t do us any good. However, it was in a separate competition and it must not affect or influence our performances in the league. I think we didn’t do well in the decisive moments of the game. Every time we fall, we try to find something to learn from it. This time, we’ve got this experience, this lesson and we’ll try to do better tomorrow.”
How is Castillejo looking in training?
“He had some physical problems that didn’t allow him to feel good and train regularly in the last period. Now he’s better and available.”
Bennacer celebrated his 100th appearance for the Rossoneri, how is he doing?
“He is a player in great growth with margins to improve on both phases. One of the characteristics of a midfielder is to read situations in advance and he works hard to become better and better. The only bad news is that he will not be there tomorrow: in the Derby he suffered a sprained ankle and he was unable to recover.”
What are your best memories of coaching Lazio?
“There was a fantastic first year where Lazio played great football and finished third, but there were still the preliminaries in place and we didn’t manage to qualify for the Champions League. As a coach, the only regret I have is the second year where I hadn’t managed well some dynamics that I would manage differently now.”
What does it mean to play against Sarri?
“It means you’re taking on a team that defends by pressing high and attacks with quality. I expect them to look to move the ball around so as to get good service into Immobile. They have a lot of attacking quality and are well-coached.”
Have you changed?
“Yes and it is normal that it should be like that. Last year at this point we didn’t even know if we would qualify for the Champions League, now we know that we want to try to win the title, we’re gonna do our best until the end. That gives all of us that bit extra energy, emotions, tension but most of all emotions. That desire which makes you want to go beyond your limits, beyond your potential, to achieve something that at the start of the season seemed impossible. So it’s obvious we’re experiencing a very exciting period, well-aware that we must always have a fire burning in our hearts but ice running through our veins.”
What is the position of Brahim Díaz?
“It always depends on the matches and the opponents. The other night Inter were waiting for us and there was no space between the lines. It depends on the situations.”
What kind of Lazio do you expect?
“A Lazio that will look for depth for Immobile with insertions from offensive players. An organized and quality of team.”
The title race is like a climb in cycling…
“It’s an uphill climb I think it will depend on us whether the stretch will be an uphill battle or a downhill stroll. It will depend on our approach and how we play as a team. We have already overcome several challenges in the past and this should give us even more strength for a game like tomorrow’s game.”