AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has no worries about his team’s recent form, and urged them to face Parma with ‘intensity’ to put it behind them.
We are virtually on the home straight now with regards to the race for a Champions League spot, a situation that is becoming increasingly tense and uncertain for Milan despite the fact they have been top of the table for over 20 rounds this season.
Milan will have to change gears and get back into top gear to avoid being permanently sucked in by their pursuers. The next couple of matches will be difficult if Pioli’s team does not approach them in the right way.
Pioli spoke to the reporters that gathered in the press room at Milanello about tomorrow’s clash and about the various headlines circulating at the moment, which seem to be anything but match-related. His comments were transcribed by MilanNews.
During the week everything was talked about except the match. What opponent will you face tomorrow?
“Tomorrow’s match only counts. I don’t like the concept of ‘9 matches left’. What counts is tomorrow’s match which will be played to the best of our ability and better than the one against Sampdoria. They will be a difficult opponent, who plays quickly and with quality.”
What kind of a week has it been?
“One of the things I appreciate about my team is that we are so focused on our goals is that we are very disappointed when we fail to perform at the same level. We know what the mistakes are and we know which ones we don’t have to repeat.”
How are Calabria and Manzdukic?
“Davide has done everything he has won on the pitch. He has shown great willingness and intelligence. I’m sorry he is still out, but he is better and should be back next week. Mario was unlucky but he is a great man and a great professional. He’s not at his best yet but it can give us a lot in these outings.”
What mistakes were made against Sampdoria?
“There is a bit of everything in what didn’t work last Saturday, but we can’t just think about what we didn’t manage to do, but tomorrow’s game counts. If we are good at maintaining the average points held so far, we can close at 80 points. Tomorrow we know how complicated it is.”
It is a Milan that has shown great character this season and there are many opponents for the Champions League fight. Can Milan handle the pressure?
“Absolutely yes. We have passed many steps in this year and a half and we did it mentally. Tomorrow’s game will have to see us on the pitch with a great desire to do well and intensity.”
If Milan go behind in games, do you find it difficult to recover?
“The mental aspect of the game can change. Going ahead can build confidence. We need quality and rhythm and when we don’t have it we struggle. The approach matters a lot.”
You have overtaken Gattuso on days spent on the Milan bench. Would you like to overtake Allegri?
“I’m fine here with Milan, the club and the owners. We are working well to bring Milan back to normal, to the European competition that matters. I’m fine here and I can make an impact in improving the club and the players.”
A medical bulletin on Romagnoli, Diaz and Leao.
“If yesterday’s situations are confirmed today, the only ones not called up will be Calabria, Romagnoli and Maldini. The others are all available for Parma.”
Will there be any surprises on the right wing tomorrow, like Hauge?
“Hauge I think his position is on the left, where he performs best. I don’t want to put players not in the ideal conditions to perform at their best. Diaz could play on the right and it could be a possibility.”
Theo was one of Milan’s most positive factors in 2020 but has struggled in 2021. What is going on?
“He had played an excellent match in Florence. Last Saturday he ran into a bad day. I saw a focused player this week and I expect a positive game from him.”
Would you like tomorrow’s match to be your last of the season?
“The season ends on 23 May. We are aware that there are many games missing and we are focused on this. We have no fears or anxieties. I see you want to reach the goal and play for Milan.
“Each coach and each team has its own identity. We play and try to play well to get the victory, which is the main thing, then everyone gets there as they see fit. We have our way of playing, our players feel good in the way we play.”
Parma is a team that presses high. How do you plan to get around this obstacle?
“The Italian season is stimulating because there are so many different teams. We are ready for anything. We must not make the same mistakes as Sampdoria, that is not to go deep. We must be able to read spaces well and be fast both with the ball and without the ball.”
Milan have almost got all players back from injury, how do you feel?
“It means increasing the level of quality and rhythm in training, in the possibility of choosing. I hope it will always be like this from now to the end. We have more ideas both from the beginning and during the race. Having more solutions is always positive.”
What are the problems up front?
“We have to make better choices, we miss the last step, the right dribbling which then are the choices that determine the final result.”