Spurs boss Antonio Conte has heaped praise upon his opposite number Stefano Pioli for what he has so far achieved with AC Milan.
Pioli will once again face off against Conte tomorrow night, this time in probably the biggest meeting of all. There have been 11 meetings between Pioli and Conte ranging from the first in 2008 to the most recent in 2021.
The current Milan boss has won only once, with three draws and a rather worrying seven defeats. The first encounter was back on 8 March 2008 in Serie B as the two then-young coaches met representing Bari and Grosseto, with the game ending in a 2-2 draw, and the most recent was the Milan derby in February 2021.
Conte spoke at his pre-match press conference on the eve of the Champions League match against Milan, also speaking about Pioli after he stated that he had received congratulations from the former Inter boss, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.
“It has happened to me several times to send messages and compliment coaches who have won me and who have beaten me. It’s a form of respect to give credit to those who have proven to be the best,” he began.
“Stefano had a very long journey before achieving victory, I’m sure he deserved it much, much earlier. What he did last year with Milan it’s something incredible: nobody expected it and instead they created the right compactness, alchemy and organisation to win the title. I felt compelled to write to him. We met during Italy-England and I reiterated my compliments. He really did something great last year.”
Conte also spoke with Sky Italia.
How are you? “The doctor’s recommendation is to feel calm at least for the first 15 days. He had advised me not to return but my sense of responsibility made me anticipate the times. I certainly can’t make myself feel the way I would like during the match (laughs).”
What is it like coming back to San Siro? “They are certainly always beautiful sensations. I’m going home, Italy is my home. Being at San Siro again reminded me of two wonderful seasons at Inter. What we shared together… I feel strong emotions.”
What game should we expect against Pioli’s Milan? “Stefano is a coach who has been coaching for a long time, he deserved this satisfaction long before. For the fact that he has crowned a journey in a club with such an important history as Milan, credit must be given to him, to the players and to the managers.
“Last year they did something extraordinary and therefore it seemed normal to me to compliment him. We meet as opponents. In the last week we had two injuries of some importance, Bentancur broke his ligament, Bissouma underwent surgery for a stress fracture in his ankle. It is a particular, difficult moment, but for this we must be able to unite even more and overcome the difficulties.”
Have you fallen in love with England or does your heart still beat for Italy? “It’s my second experience in England, there’s an incredible atmosphere in the stadium. People come with the joy of watching the match, it’s a party, a celebration. From this point of view you fall in love. But the first love is never forgotten, Italy always remains.”