Stefano Pioli says he doesn’t care whether Milan are underappreciated or not and claims he didn’t say anything special to the team on Thursday following Inter’s defeat.
With 4 games to go to the end of the season, Milan are 1st in the standings and tomorrow they face Fiorentina at Stadio San Siro at 15:00 CET. Anything but a win could give the advantage back to Inter, who play Udinese later that evening.
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 do you comment on Maldini’s words?
“He said that he was proud of our path and we have proud to have such high-level directors.”
Do you get a different mood from the looks on your team? How are your guys doing from this points of view?
“I have always thought that the best thing is to prepare only for the next game and I’ve seen attention, determination and commitment that we will have to put on the field tomorrow.”
In the last 4 games, is the head and mentality more important than technique and tactics?
“Everything counts. Games are often decided by single incidents. In those incidents: if you want to win you need to add something more than your opponent. That might be quality, determination, ferocity or even intuition. In the incidents that can change the course of a game, you need to add something more. That’s what we want to do. I think it is wrong to think about the next four games, because there is only one: tomorrow’s. Great attention, great focus, great effort in trying to play to our strengths and style, for the full 95 minutes. This we must do.”
Do Milan need to have tomorrow the eyes of a lion? Have to be a fierce team? Has the KO of Inter increased your chances to win the Scudetto?
“Fire in our hearts and ice in our veins is always the best way to be. We clearly need energy, our style requires energy and intensity and generates a great deal of fatigue. However, we need to be able to read the moments of the match. Games change and do so quickly, obviously against Lazio last week we hadn’t wanted such a negative start, unfortunately it happened but then we had the strength to retake control of the match. We believed in ourselves until the end and we deserved to win because we believed in it. We must do so again tomorrow.”
What are your emotions in this grueling 2-horse race?
“What we’re feeling at the moment is great focus, and a great desire to do our job and do it well until the very end. We have no other thoughts at the moment, none of us is thinking about May 22. We are focused on tomorrow as it should be because, as you rightly pointed out, the predictions and percentages have changed weekly, the opinions on who was in the running and who not have changed. All that matters is doing our best tomorrow and we face a team that plays attractive, intense football, they’re fast and aggressive. They are going to cause us problems and we need to be focused on our performance; that is what we can control. When we perform like Milan should, we have better chances of winning.”
Can the football of Fiorentina, a team that play openly, be an advantage?
“It’s always difficult to make predictions. When a team wants to catch you high then they leave some space behind and we’ll need to be good at choosing the right moments. Staying inside the game means interpreting the various situations of the match quickly and with quality.”
In your opinion, have Milan been underappreciated during this season?
“I don’t really care whether we’re appreciated or not outside the club, what I care about is what we think of ourselves and we believe we’re worthy of our results and that we have important characteristics. We also have our limits, which we try to cover while making the most of our strengths. That’s all that matters to me, as well as maximum focus and preparedness in facing tomorrow’s match.”
Will your Milan team tomorrow have to restart from the 20th minute of the game against Lazio?
“We have to restart from the two goals we scored, in those two goals there is a lot of our characteristics, from Leão’s run in behind, to Giroud’s sliding finish, to the pressure of Rebić and Zlatan’s positioning, to Tonali’s finish at the last second… we have to start over from these attitudes. If we are intense and we all work to be proactive then we have more chances of winning, we have to do it consistently throughout the match. Fiorentina is a high-level team, so our level will also have be high. Serie A is difficult and our matches against Bologna and Torino prove it, like we’ve had trouble there then others had trouble there. What matters is the final score, we have to think about winning as many points as possible.”
Are there any particular difficulties in facing teams coached by Italiano?
“Last year at Spezia was our worst performance in the league. During the week I reviewed the first round game against Fiorentina and we made many individual mistakes. Italiano is doing a great job, we’ll have to make the right plays to put Fiorentina in trouble.”
Did you see Manchester City-Real Madrid and the goal scored thanks to the referee not whistling after a foul and giving the advantage?
“I thought the referee did well…”
Who will be called up for the match against Fiorentina?
“The players not called up will be Kjær, Florenzi who is recovering well and should be back next week, and Maldini, who has a strain.”
The fans at the moment prefer not to talk…
“Our fans are intelligent, this is not the time to talk but to do.”
How is Bennacer doing?
“He had a problem with his ankle, he’s been training with the team since yesterday and he’s fine. To me, to the directors and to his teammates, he is definitely not underestimated. He knows how to interpret both phases of play well: he is a complete midfielder.”
Can the difficulties faced help you?
“The challenges you have overcome in the past must give you more conviction. We have had hard obstacles and we have overcome them with our football which is made of emotion and passion. We must continue on this path.”
What speed did you give the team on Thursday morning?
“It was the only day in which I didn’t speak to the team.”
Did Ibra instead speak on Thursday morning?
“Zlatan always talks to his teammates. On Thursday I don’t think he gathered the team to say something special, it was the least suitable day to say something.”
What do you think about the approaches in the games against Inter and Lazio?
“We need to improve our approach to games because we got it wrong ahead of the derby in the Coppa and against Lazio. We’ve worked on that and we’re trying hard to limit this type of error. We don’t have to think about closing down games, but we must have balance and then stay in the game.”
Do you think the game against Fiorentina is fundamental?
“Yes, but in the same way I believed the same thing before Lazio. Tomorrow will be fundamental, but I will say the same thing before Hellas Verona. I don’t like to say that these are all finals, we have always thought about one match at a time. We have never been overly-down nor overly-excited. During the week I saw attention, determination and commitment. Tomorrow we’ll have to play a match with these characteristics.”
The fans say they are proud whichever way it goes…
“I never say that everything is going to go well. We just hope it goes the way we want.”
What strings have you struck these days?
“We have prepared for the match according to our game concepts, knowing that in the game we have to put everything we have into it.”