Pioli: “This is a strong Milan, I’ve seen the same look and spirit of last year in my players, I am happy with what the new signings are showing, Udinese…”

Stefano Pioli during a press conference at Milanello on August 12, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

Stefano Pioli is ready for Matchday 1 and he’s explained in what Milan will be different compared to last season.

The 2021/22 Serie A season of Milan was as positive as it can get, as they won their first Scudetto in 11 years, finishing at the top of the standings with 86 points. Tomorrow the new campaign begins and it starts with a game at a full San Siro against Udinese (18:30 CEST kickoff).

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:

Tomorrow there will be a lot of enthusiasm in the stadium. How do you mediate between this enthusiasm and the beginning of a new adventure?
“There is no need to mediate. It’s a great achievement to have a full San Siro on August 13, it’s an enthusiasm we have to cultivate to draw energy from. Obviously, the standings are reset, we will start from 0 points like everyone else. We start with the awareness of what we achieved and what we are. We must continue along our path, we became so competitive as a result of our way of working. The way we prepare to try to win better than our opponents; preparing each game to our best, paying attention to the smallest details. We start from our way of taking to the field, our attitudes, and above all from our energy and desire to start the season well.”

The squad during training at Stadio San Siro on August 11, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

Is it’s your strongest Milan? Does it still need to be completed?
“This is a strong Milan, the field will tell whether this Milan is stronger than last season’s, but this is a strong Milan. Firstly because I’ve seen the same look, attitude and spirit in my players, the same way of working together and that always makes me optimistic. Added to that, I am convinced that none of us, including myself, has reached his full potential yet. So, this is a Milan that is still growing, we must be brave in trying to grow and improve day by day.”

What is your analysis of the new players and of the attack?
“The new arrivals, Divock, Charles and Yacine, are giving me positive feelings. They have good characteristics, we certainly have strengthened the attacking department. Rebić is doing well, he’s had a great pre-season. Giroud is doing well, too. Everyone is available for tomorrow except Tonali due to his muscular issue but he’s coming along well. That gives me many options and solutions, which is good for me and the team. Origi seems to me like a complete striker and he knows how to talk with his teammates. He will give us satisfaction, he is very intelligent like Adli and De Ketelaere. We will have to them time to get up to speed but I’m very happy with what they are showing.”

Mike Maignan, Alessandro Florenzi, Simon Kjær, Divock Origi, Tommaso Pobega, Brahim Díaz, Ismaël Bennacer, Junior Messias, Yacine Adli, Theo Hernández and Matteo Gabbia during training at Stadio San Siro on August 11, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

Have you seen anyone during this pre-season that has convinced you the most?
“If we want to name names then definitely Messias, Rebić and Bennacer: they have been the most consistent. I have seen desire to work and compete in all of them to prove that they can be chosen by the coach. Football is changing, it’s evolving quickly. A few years ago, it was said that pre-season football didn’t matter much, while now even friendlies count, but above all the opening match matters a lot. Udinese are a very difficult opponent, they’ve changed coach but not their style. They’re a very organized team, very physical, and dangerous on the counter and set-pieces. It’s the only team, besides Juventus, we didn’t beat last season. That’s why we have prepared very well and tomorrow we’ll have to show we’re a team under all aspects and qualities to try to win the first game.”

Milan are not Scudetto favorites in the predictions…
“We have never worried about what people outside Milanello said about us. We want to be competitive, we will have many competitions to try to win: we will have to prove it starting tomorrow.”

Olivier Giroud and Simon Kjær during training at Stadio San Siro on August 11, 2022. (@acmilan.com).

Who are the Scudetto opponents in this particular season with a World Cup in November?
“It’s a particular season. Today I showed the team the entire schedule from now until November 13: 23-24 games in 90 days. It will take an incredible effort, we will need all the players available. It’s a particular campaign, in 3 months we will already have played so much between Serie A and the Champions League. We have to start well and we did well in the preparation. The players all responded well, they worked consistently and are all fine except Tonali who has a small problem. It will be a balanced league and it will be difficult to surpass last season’s points tally. The top 7 teams are all very strong and their quality has increased. The mid-table teams have also grown a lot, there are so many teams that want to win: it will be a good fight.”

Are you happy with the team? Did you expect anything else form the mercato?
“I am delighted with the team and with the players who have arrived. We have a very attentive management and if the right opportunity comes then I know they won’t back down to improve the squad.”

Fodé Ballo-Touré, Alexis Saelemaekers, Charles De Ketelaere and Fikayo Tomori during training at Stadio San Siro on August 11, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

Will Brahim start as a trequartista tomorrow ahead of Adli and De Ketelaere?
“If Brahim were to play then it’s because I think he is more suitable than others for this match. He probably has more momentum than the other two right now. Charles has had a so-so preparation for all the reasons we know. In that position they have to prove to me that they can be starters in every training session, but all three can play in other positions as well, which is very important to me.”

In what ways will Milan be the same and in what ways they will be different?
“It will be the same in the energy we put unto the match, in the mental attitude: we can never drop our attention and the kind of pressure we want to put on. We have to try to always the attack the opponent. I’m very interested in preparing the game well, but then it’s the rivals who say which direction the game takes: their performances will tell if we can or should change something. I think I have different characteristics in front that can allow me to change a little bit. Do not talk about starters anymore, because as I explained to the team today, there are 26 starters this season because everyone will play and all are strong players deserving of playing for Milan. We need to play at a high level and maintain it. To do so we need to prepare in a certain way, we need to be model professionals, and we must always hold the team as our point of reference and the good of the team.”

The squad during training at Stadio San Siro on August 11, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

Have you had contact with the contacts in the last time?
“Yesterday, I heard from both Cardinale and Elliott, who wanted to wish the best of luck to me and the team, which was very nice. All together we’ll try to start our season in the best way.”

Will the standings be hanging in the dressing room?
“Yes, I have something in mind to motivate the players again this year. But we’ve worked hard to start the league well. We know the difficulties that we’ll encounter against Udinese and we’ll try to beat an opponent that last year we didn’t manage to beat.

Rafael Leão during training at Stadio San Siro on August 11, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

What obstacles can be found against Udinese?
“We will have to move very well without the ball, they are a physical team. If we do not take away points of references from them, it is clear that we’ll find it difficult. We have to find the players between the lines, but I think we’ll need to have a great game especially without the ball, staying compact and trying to play more in the opponent’s half by trying to dominate the play.”

Can Adli and De Ketelaere play together?
“All talented, available and intelligent players can play together.”

The squad during training at Stadio San Siro on August 11, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

Wouldn’t there be too much playing this season?
“It will be an anomalous season and the World Cup in the winter creates difficulties. I am curious about this campaign, I think for the players who are not going to the World Cup this could also be a good situation. For those who will go to Qatar and compete to win it will be a more complicated season to manage and we’ll have to figure out how to get them to recover.”

How do you replace a player like Kessié?
“Other players have also left, but it’s a natural process for a journey that has lasted three years. The characteristics of the new players change but the way we play does not change. There will be players with different characteristics but I think Milan are complete to try to be competitive.”

Divock Origi and Pierre Kalulu during training at Stadio San Siro on August 11, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

What do you expect from Kalulu?
“I expect a confirmation of the performances he made, he has been one of the players who has grown the most. He has always been a hard worker and he has always worked with humility. I have no concerns about his attitudes and performance, he is a guy with a good head on his shoulders. The things he has done, he has earned through hard work and he knows he has to keep it up. If we have been able to defend so well then we also owe it to the attacking players. Our defensive game is as a team, not just the defenders.”

Is Milan’s left flank the strongest in the world with Theo and Leão?
“I don’t know, but if they are of the highest level – I’d say yes, but so can Rebić and Ballo-Touré be. In certain types of matches we have to expect opponents who will not leave us this kind of plays. The fact that Theo and Rafa are top-level – absolutely yes.”

Can the next four games influence the mercato?
“We have clear ideas about our squad. The team is complete, but then the mercato can offer you solutions that to date you had not even thought of. The management is always read to seize any opportunities to improve the squad.”

Stefano Pioli during training at Stadio San Siro on August 11, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

How will you handle corner kicks better this season?
“We expect better results. It’s not just centimeters that count, it’s mainly a matter of attitude, of the desire needed to score dirtier goal and get second balls. We are working on it, I see very motivated players in this direction. We have to face a team with a lot more centimeters than us: we will have to be smarter and shrewder to take advantage of all kinds of situations.”

How have you found Adli?
“He has beautiful characteristics. He is an atypical midfield, he goes a lot around the pitch, and he has great verticality and vision of game. He is ready to be an important player for Milan.”

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We need 2 more and time is running out, less than 3 weeks. CM and CB are a must. Bakayko terminated and Gabbia loaned out. If we have little money and lack italian players Scalvini from Atalanta and Magiore from Spezia seem good option and they have contract till 2023. Perfect option would be N’Dicka also until 2023 and on from the following: Sangare, Seko Fofafana, Douglas Luiz, Khepren Thuram, Fratessi.