AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has insisted that ‘the group is aware of its qualities’ as they attempt to battle out of a tough start to 2021.
Milan have already lost five times in all competitions this calendar year surpassing the total from 2020, leading some fans and sections of the media to question if there are deeper problems within the squad and if they can bounce back.
The most recent disappointments came in the last 10 days, as the team lost 2-0 against Spezia while failing to record a shot on target, threw away a lead in added time against a 10-man Red Star side last Thursday and lost the derby 3-0 against Inter on Sunday.
Pioli spoke at his pre-match press conference on the eve of the game, with his comments transcribed by MilanNews and translated below.
How would you describe Milan’s current moment?
“It was a difficult and complicated path, but when the level rises it’s normal and we managed to overcome some difficulties. Now we have the obstacle of tomorrow, we have a small advantage, which doesn’t allow us to manage the game in any other way. We will have to have a lot of quality to be able to pass this round.”
How much desire do you have to react?
“A lot. The group is aware of its qualities. Already on Sunday we had a great desire to restart. We want to start from our convictions, show that they can play excellent football and make convincing results.”
How has the decline in recent weeks explained?
“We analysed the last performance, only at the end of the first half and at the beginning of the second did we play out game. We played with little intensity. You can fall, it is not a failure to fall in these games but it would be to stay still in the points of difficulty. We have to start again with rhythm and consistency, starting from tomorrow’s game.”
Why do you have these problems in defence?
“It is wrong to talk about individual departments. We attack and defend all together. If we have conceded a few more goals, it is because we have not defended all of them with the right intensity.”
Why is Tonali having difficulties?
“When the team does not do well, all the individuals go into difficulty. Sandro is growing well.”
How are Bennacer and Kessie?
“Bennacer hasn’t had a relapse. He won’t be working with the team this week, we hope to have him back soon. Kessie is fine, he’s available for tomorrow, then we’ll see what choices to make.”
Could playing every three days become a problem?
“No, it would give me more anxiety not to have to play every three days. We want to do well in Europe, I have many players to keep the team at a high level. Tomorrow will be a complicated match, but within our reach. We want to move forward in Europe.”
How is Ibra also in view of Sanremo?
“I talk to him every day. Last week we set his schedule, he will miss a couple of training sessions but he will be there with the team.”
Could Romagnoli have a psychological backlash given the criticism he has received?
“We won as a team and we lost as a team. I don’t like finding a culprit when you lose. He’s the captain and he has done a lot to make this team grow, even helping the young players. We have to stay together. Some defeats can make us grow.”
What did you tell the team?
“I see a group motivated and willing to return to play like a few weeks ago. I told the team that there are 90 days to go until the end of the season, they will be decisive days for our season. If things go well, it could be 93 days since the Europa League final is on May 26th. I don’t say anything about tomorrow’s match, I said before Spezia that we had trained well and then we know how it went. We have to prove it on the pitch.”
Did the opponents take the measures?
“The matches are all different. In Spezia we found a very aggressive team, while Inter made us play the match. The matches are all different and can change, but we must have clear playing principles. We must insist on This. Then there could also be some changes if we were to find other difficulties, we must be ready.”