Ambrosini discusses Milan’s recent struggles, upcoming crossroads and Pioli doubts

By Oliver Fisher -

Massimo Ambrosini believes that the next two matches against Fiorentina and Borussia Dortmund will say a lot about the direction AC Milan’s season will go.

Milan’s campaign started well with seven wins in their first eight league games which put them top of the pile going into the last international break, but they failed to win any of their opening three Champions League matches.

However, the tables have turned. A victory at San Siro against Paris Saint-Germain has reopened the possibility of reaching the last 16 in Europe, yet a run of four games without a win in Serie A (including two defeats and two draws from 2-0 up) has seen Inter and Juventus pull away.

Ambrosini gave an interview to La Gazzetta dello Sport (see photo below) which was published in this morning’s edition of the paper, and he spoke of the decisive upcoming period for his former club.

Fiorentina and Borussia Dortmund: is this the crossroads of the season?

“Against Dortmund it is the match of the year, there is little to discuss. In the league, time plays on Milan’s side, but against Fiorentina a ‘performance’ response will be needed: without Leao and Giroud it will be a key test to understand the real strength of the team.

“So far, when Milan have given up their starters they have struggled because the alternatives have not proven up to par: Pioli has had nothing from Jovic, they have had little from Okafor and very little from Chukwueze.”

Can the crisis in results in the league be explained this way?

“It’s a combination of factors, because even the starters have gone through difficult phases. I think of Thiaw against Juve or Reijnders’ decline in the last month. Having said that, we must remember that Milan has changed a lot in the last transfer market.

“There is quality in the squad but the awareness that is acquired over the years is missing, as Inter did, which in fact is more structured. Milan is ambitious and right to be so. If he eases the tension drops that caused him to lose points…”

For many fans, Pioli no longer has the dressing room in his hands…

“I don’t have this feeling. But I think that a coach must be good at finding strong motivations to maintain a high level of concentration. Pioli has already succeeded in doing so in the year of the Scudetto.

“To this we must add an aspect that in my opinion is crucial: at a corporate level, Milan has decided to change, giving itself a new structure. And he delegated to Pioli a task that previously fell to others, burdening him with further responsibility.”

Will Ibra’s arrival help?

“I don’t know what he will do exactly. What I can say is that, for a coach of a top club, feeling the presence of the club in everyday life is of great help.”

Are the many injuries due to the style of play?

“Not for me: Milan has an international style, like many big European teams.”

You were one of the leaders of the dressing room. Can you think of a leader for today’s Milan?

“Did you see Loftus-Cheek against PSG? With a player who plays a game like that I would be very demanding, he has everything to take charge of the team. It’s time to strike a blow.”

Bennacer is about to return…

“And if he is well he always plays, because he has an impact. But you can’t ask for the world from a player who hasn’t been there since May. Milan have excellent players in the middle, but they need more aggressive shooting: Reijnders, Musah, Loftus… They have to take advantage of the opportunities.”

Speaking of goals, which striker would you like to see join Giroud in January?

“The perfect centre-forward would have been Taremi. Jonathan David is certainly an interesting profile. But I ask myself: are we sure that Colombo would not have been useful in this context?”

Fiorentina will arrive at San Siro three points behind Milan. Are you surprised?

“They have eliminated last year’s defects, now they concede less despite playing attacking football. The technical project is very similar to that of Milan. But I repeat: Fiorentina must be beaten as a team.

“If you don’t do things right you risk, because La Viola highlights your weak points. In any case, both them and Borussia give space to those who face them. And when Milan has space…”

Tags AC Milan Massimo Ambrosini
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