Pioli: “We want to keep building on our two previous performances and keep growing, Roma are strong, Taremi…”

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Stefano Pioli talking to the press at Milanello on August 31, 2023. (@acmilan.com)

Stefano Pioli spoke to the press today ahead of Milan’s game against Roma tomorrow night.

The Rossoneri play Roma on Friday at Stadio Olimpico (20:45 CEST kickoff) and Milan will hope to continue their good form from the first two matches of the season and grab a third straight win.

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 others:

Is this the watershed game between the summer and the season?
“Every game is a turning point. Every game is important. And we are Milan and want to go out and win. We’re coming up against a very strong side, led by a great Coach. They’ve only picked up one point in the league, but their defensive and attacking stats show them as the best team so far. We’re just focusing on this game and not looking beyond, where there’s the break and then the Derby. Every game is worth 3 points and we just want to play well. Obviously, we want to keep building on our two previous performances, and keep growing, as we showed from the first to the second game, and we want to try and do it this time around as well.”

The squad during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

What Milan do you expect tomorrow?
“We won’t be any different. We are this: we want to play this type of football. But the opponent will always be different. We play a brand of football that we want to play but that is dependent on the opposition, so we don’t know what Roma are going to propose: will they be aggressive or not? Will they sit back? We are ready and prepared to play our game, that we know well, and that we want to take forward. This is clear. Game by game, we want to try and be as perfect as possible, and the better the opposition the more you need to cut out your mistakes and errors. We will look to be accurate, concentrated, clinical and forward-thinking because our style is to try and be a threat and dictate the game, and not the other way around.”

Will there an emotional shock in tomorrow’s game? And what game do you expect?
“You always need calmness and lucidity, accompanied by determination and attention. We must not stop looking ahead and to find areas of the field in which we can find numerical superiority

Is there anything you like about the other Serie A teams?
“I’ve only watched our opponents so far, then in the break I’ll watch the others. At the moment I’m only focused on tomorrow’s match.”

Stefano Pioli during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

Does the fact that Lukaku went to Roma complicate tomorrow’s away match?
“In terms of the atmosphere not much, because Roma have sold out many matches before. We know the atmosphere in Roma well, it’s always nice to play in full stadiums facing challenging opposition. Certain things don’t scare us, they stimulate us.”

Dybala will not be there, how much does his absence weigh?
“With or without Dybala and Lukaku, Roma are strong, organized, very physical, dangerous, they give away little and they are strong on set pieces. We’ll have to be prepared.”

What does Lukaku bring to Roma?
“It’s an important signing on paper, then we’ll see what the pitch will say…”

The squad during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

Did you expect this impact from the new players?
“We’ve worked a lot together to prepare as best we can. I’ve always insisted on a certain idea of the game and gave consistency to certain choices on the field. We are talking about important players, they are strong and intelligent. It’s the whole system that is working, although there are still many things to improve.”

A year has passed since the ‘closing’ with RedBird. What are your thoughts?
“Gerry [Cardinale] is certainly a person with great charisma and mentality, and wants to grow Milan and improve everything, not only the playing side but every aspect of the Club, so this enthusiasm and motivation is also stimulating for us to try and develop and become even more competitive.”

Noah Okafor, Christian Pulisic, Malick Thiaw, Tommaso Pobega, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Samuel Chukwueze during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

Has there been an improvement in the defensive organization?
“Against Torino we were more compact than against Bologna. Tomorrow we face a different opponent, we will have to be good at reading situations. We’ve prepared ourselves in the best possible way to face a dangerous opposition.”

You play before others this weekend. Is that a problem?
“The way I see it, no. I prefer to play early rather than late. The team is doing well physically and mentally.”

How will you face Roma?
“Many things have changed compared to last year’s match. The positions we are going to take in possession are determined by the space they’ll leave us. Without the ball, the idea is to be aggressive but you have to be careful.”

Rafael Leão, Noah Okafor, Samuel Chukwueze and Ruben Loftus-Cheek during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

There is a negotiation for Taremi. What is your feeling?
“I have such capable directors that between yesterday and today I haven’t heard from them because they know I’m preparing the game. I don’t know what they are doing. This doesn’t interest me today, it will interest me tomorrow night. I’m very happy and satisfied with the team I have and tomorrow evening we will see what will happen.”

Krunić has had several requests…
“For me he is a starter for Milan. I’ve never had other thoughts.”

Can Pulisic play the false 9 role?
“Everything is possible in football when there are two essential factors: quality and the willingness to make yourself available. Right now I think it’s important to give certainly to the team. We have changed a lot, between sales and signings we’ve changed almost a squad.”

Christian Pulisic during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

Jurić said he was surprised by Milan’s physicality…
“In modern-day football, quality and work-rate make the difference, so if you can combine these two elements then you can definitely hold a strong group, and we believe we are close to that.”

How can goals can Loftus-Cheek score?
“I hope he can score a lot. He has the qualities to be a decisive player in the offensive phase as well.”

Stefano Pioli during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

How is the inclusion of Musah, Chukwueze and Okafor progressing?
“They are working well. Okafor is returning from an injury, maybe he is the furthest behind, but he is improving. Musah and Chukwueze also had a particular summer, they haven’t had any friendlies, but they are doing well and are ready to play from the first minute as well.”

What can you tell us about the Champions League draw?
“We will be in the plane during the draw, hopefully the pilot in command will give us the news… Last year we had a great Champions League run. We want to approach this year’s Champions League with great motivation and enthusiasm. Being in Port 3 will probably see us in a complicated group but that’s normal. You don’t always get what you want, but what you want to fight for. I’ve learned that you should never lose confidence in the players; being positive, flexible, understanding how to help the team in difficult times… these can be a good help to give the team a way.”

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