GdS: Pioli heads to Florence with Liedholm in his sights – the striking similarities

By Oliver Fisher -

The game against Fiorentina on Saturday night will carry a special meaning for Stefano Pioli, and not just because he is returning to face his former clubs.

As La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below) points out, Pioli can equal Nils Liedholm on 128 victories with Milan in all competitions and with a win against Fiorentina. Liedholm is a Milan legend, he won the 10th Scudetto as a coach and four titles as a player, so it is not just any honour.

Pioli coached Fiorentina and formed his modern era there – many of his contemporary ideas were born with La Viola – while Liedholm also coached in Florence two seasons, finishing fourth. Both shared a passion for attacking, fun football.

Paolo Maldini said: “Liedholm taught me one thing above all, that football is a game. This is the treasure of him that I have always carried within me.”

Another similarity is the ability to start or relaunch the careers of many young players. Pioli did it at Milan with Tonali, Leao, Theo Hernandez and others, while Liedholm launched Bettega, Antognoni, Bruno Conti, Franco Baresi, Maldini and Ancelotti, who now and always remains his direct heir.

Fiorentina-Milan games will never just be just any match for Pioli. Florence will forever be the memory of Davide Astori, the past that returns, and on the pitch it could be the last exclamation point in the race for the 2024-25 Champions League spots.

Milan are 11 points above fifth-placed Roma and 15 over sixth-placed Atalanta, who also have a game in hand. Let’s say safe distance. For this reason, winning in Florence would allow the Rossoneri to have a peaceful Easter and focus on the Europa League, which will occupy our thoughts from 11 April.

It is no mystery that Pioli’s spring revolves around two derbies. The one with Inter on 22 April, for pride, and the one against Roma in the Europa League (11 and 18 April), to try make sense of a season of ups and downs.

In fact, in the ranking of games managed for the Rossoneri, Liedholm is still far away. Pioli would join him with another season on the bench, and another season must be earned.

Is it possible? Likely even ? Life surprises in one sense or another. Liedholm said to his father, before leaving for Milan in 1949: “Don’t worry, I’ll stay for a maximum of two years, then I’ll come back.” He never returned.


Tags AC Milan Stefano Pioli
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