Pioli admits Milan need the international break and reveals why Ibrahimovic apologised after the game

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has admitted that his side are in need of the upcoming rest that the international break will provide.

Milan left it late on Sunday night at San Siro as they battled back from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw against Hellas Verona.

Looking to respond after Thursday’s 3-0 defeat against Lille, the Rossoneri found themselves in a horrendous position as they were two goals down inside 20 minutes as Antonin Barak and a Davide Calabria own-goal gave Verona a dream start.

The home side roared back though, with a Giangiacomo Magnani own-goal and a Zlatan Ibrahimovic header in the 93rd minute earning a point, though the Swede did miss a penalty and handled the ball for a disallowed goal.

Milan’s unbeaten run in Serie A stretches to 19 games and their lead atop the Serie A table is extended to two points, but it does feel like two points dropped when you see the statistics.

Pioli was interviewed by Sky after the game, with his comments transcribed by MilanNews and translated below.

He began by responding to what Zlatan Ibrahimovic had said minutes prior to him in his post-game interview, in which he was honest in admitting that rest is needed.

“I was here, I heard it, what Zlatan said is right. Playing so much is very tiring, these will be the most difficult matches,” he said.

“Opponents like Udinese and Verona have had several days, we get to play them after half a week, things are more complicated and we need to be balanced to comment on the performance. We want to improve last year’s position and we also want to do well in Europe.”

On the dialogue with Ibra: “He told me that he was sorry because it was a game that could be won, that Kessie will probably take the next penalty and that he needs to rest and luckily the break will come.”

On Milan’s problem with set piece situations: “We wanted to win immediately in the league, the inattention on dead ball situations starts to get a bit heavy, it means that we need more attention and organisation, we have to work better. But then a team that creates all those opportunities has little to be reproached.”

On the similarities with the defeat against Lille: “They were two very different games, we wanted to win more individual duels up front, also because of their goalkeeper we weren’t able to score more.”

On the opportunities granted: “It depends on the skill and quality of the opponents. Sometimes we get too unbalanced and we are not so compact, these are situations that we can make better use of, but today we shot 25 times on goal, them 4.

“The qualities of Verona are there, but we played the game we had to play. We had the opportunities to win it despite the second goal conceded that complicated it.”

On the reaction: “We came from a defeat and we went straight down by two goals, we had a strong reaction, we are a strong team, but in Italy there are stronger teams than us such as Juve, Inter and Napoli, and then there are many other teams in the fight.

“Lille had not lost before today. The boys are young, mature and aware, we will overcome even the difficult moments. We arrived tired, Zlatan is right, but the boys know what awaits us after the break.”

Tags AC Milan Milan Hellas Verona Stefano Pioli