Pioli analyses struggles in Red Star game and admits Milan are in a rut: “The opponents know us better”

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has conceded that his side are lacking the same cutting edge that they had before, as opponents seem to have figured out the tactical approach.

Milan booked their place in the last 16 of the Europa League by beating Red Star, but they had to rely on away goals in order to progress, drawing 1-1 on the night as Franck Kessie’s early penalty was cancelled out.

Pioli was interviewed by Sky Italia after the game under the San Siro lights, with his comments transcribed by MilanNews beginning with a reflection on the performance.

“The team is mentally mature, it is clear that we are not in our best moment. The positive results gave us confidence, a little something failed. We had a serious game, we are sorry we did not manage the advantage well, but it was is important to pass the round against an opponent who created difficulties for us but Milan nevertheless deserved it,” he said.

Pioli was asked whether he feels like Milan’s glass is half full or half empty at the moment, given how such a positive start to the season seems to be under threat.

“The glass is still full of positivity, the Europa League is our goal but it gives you the certainty of reaching the Champions League only if you win it. We make a few mistakes too many but this is an important moment, good to have passed the turn to regain some confidence.”

In truth wastefulness was the theme of the night for both teams as Red Star had a couple of chances to get their noses in front but lacked composure, while Milan were again found wanting that clinical edge they had previously.

“We had the chances unlike the first leg, we weren’t satisfied as we did in the first leg. We had the chances, then the opponent even if they were down to ten can create difficulties. At this level, a less precise step is enough to decrease the level of performance and decrease the level of quality,” Pioli added.

“I try to stay close to my players, I try to encourage them, when there was a need to say things we did it. Responsibility is putting a bit of a brake on us and it doesn’t have to be like that. We are a team very young, they must go through these difficulties.”

Some have questioned whether a change in tactical approach is needed to help haul Milan out of the current rough patch, such as a new formation or bold selections like dropping captain Alessio Romagnoli.

On what is wrong tactically, Pioli said: “Before we were better able to command the games, to command better from the back. This allowed us offensive solutions and to prevent restarts.

“Now this is fading a little because the opponents know us better, perhaps because we move less. We must return to dominate the games a little more and suffer less, we need a more precise construction and more coordinated movements. We will work a lot on that.”

Tags AC Milan Stefano Pioli


  1. “We deserved it” ? No. We did not. They scored 3 goals, we scored none from action, only 1 own goal and 2 penalties. Yesterday we were saved by two arms, one that gave us a penalty and the other that disallowed their goal.

  2. I’m afraid Pioli is out of his depth….this squad has enough talent to make to The UCL….But he is NOT the right man… Rangnick was passed over due to a good run….but he is an old school German coach that helped RB leipzig develop a high press style and has a great scouting network….he was a better long term investment…Pioli is too rigid…he has no tactical adaptability and it’s showing…Roma will beat us… Atalanta,Juve and Roma will pass us and we’ll miss the UCL again…if that happens…fire Pioli…. we’ll never get back to our right place with him in charge…he is too small for this club.

    1. I totally agree with you, pioli is just a normal coach for with the best and strongest developing team in Europe’s top 5 leagues.
      He lacks that top class ingenuity that top coaches like ( Carlo Ancelloti, Jose Mourinho, conte or even Rangnick has ) he is yet to win a trophy, in as much as I dislike him as our coach , probably winning a trophy would upgrade his status.. without being bias this is his last and best chance of doing so in his career.
      Tactically he is naive ( you can’t be making 45 minutes substitution for top players like Rebic and Leao ) that’s the worst tactical substitution in football history. The opponents are just to aware of this.

  3. The truth remains that Mr Pioli his not flexible enough that is why he find it had to win a trophy, you have a young player who hit form in your team at the moment and you couldn’t find a way of including him the Squard but you decided to go ahead with two right wingers who couldn’t press pressure on opponent defense on the right always passing back.. leao rebic can play on the Right not until you are under pressure…this is more reason JOSE/ PEP come out on top of people like him. Ability to manipulate position at all time..

    1. I still don’t know why Pioli left Hauge out of the squad…he has 6 goals in the Europa league….and he included Krunic and Meite…If we don’t make top 4…I will understand the decision to fire him…and get in someone like De Zerbi or Italiano who have a better tactical approach in attack.

  4. Fans be fickle. One minute, they’re thinking Milan were title contenders next after a couple of losses they’re calling for Ragnick. Smh. According to Ibra, what has he won exactly?
    And why isn’t he coaching now if he’s that good?

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