Pioli asks for ‘enthusiasm and passion’ from Milan squad ahead of Juventus clash – full transcript

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has asked his side to show enthusiasm and passion to achieve an upset against Juventus on Friday.

Milan know they must score at least once against Juventus after the 1-1 draw at San Siro in the first leg (away goals being active), and they must do so without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Theo Hernandez and Samu Castillejo – all of whom are suspended.

There are also a number of statistics that work against the Rossoneri, such as the fact they are yet to win a game at the Allianz Stadium, and that they are without a victory in their last 10 games against the Bianconeri.

Pioli spoke prior to the game in the press conference room, and was in an upbeat mood about his side’s chances. His comments were uploaded to Milan’s official Twitter account, and he began by explaining what it means to return to playing.

“To be playing again is the most important thing, but it needs to be done safely. That is clear to all, and the AC Milan we have always been careful, and has always adopt the necessary precautions and we have always been in favour of restarting the season,” he said.

“Obviously playing without the fans is a massive setback but the moment it is the lesser evil. There is no alternative. The first two weeks were all at home. I intentionally unplugged and didn’t disturb the players.

“Afterwards, as we hoped would be playing again, I tried to reignite everyone’s motivation and set objectives, so we were in constant contact with the players and staff. Having such a packed fixture list is new, it’s an exception, as it is for all teams, and in a few weeks, we’ll have to deal with high temperatures, so will have to be very careful and pay a lot of attention to the small details, especially player recovery and nutrition.”

Pioli also addressed the idea that the break has given a chance for players who perhaps struggled for game time before to become part of his plans again.

“It is quite common for such a long breaks in place to affect things like fitness and packing orders. Added to that course, the packed fixture list with the game every three days, means we will need all our players,” the head coach continued.

“We faced Juventus twice this season, both games were difficult for us but also for them, and I must say on both occasions we came away with some regrets, in terms of the results. If they found the right hit the right time in the first two games we’ll have to do our best to find it this time.

“We start on equal footing; the result is against us but we are at have already shown to have the qualities to have a say in the match. As a coach and as a player, having our fans who would’ve gone to Turin in droves, but even having the fans against you always give me a lot of energy and motivation.

“On the other hand it would’ve helped our opponents too. I think we will need to adapt immediately, we already paid the price for the change in league when we faces Genoa at San Siro in a new environment for us.

“We need to make use of that experience tomorrow night. We are all eager to win tomorrow, it would be great for everyone: meet the players the club the fans. We’ll do our best.

“We who love the sport have really missed the pitch and the smell of the grass, now that we are fortunate enough to restart, We’ll need to do it with all our passion and enthusiasm, above all so we can entertain and please our fans and all the football fans who will be following from home in this particular delicate moment of our lives. So a lot of enthusiasm and passion we need to give it our all.”

“I have to say they returned in good shape, they worked hard at home and are working hard here. It goes without saying no one will be in perfect condition tomorrow and that goes for our opponents too,” Pioli continued.

“Lucas Paqueta is one of the most in shape. Bennacer has already shown excellent characteristics, he has performed well consistently this season.

“Given his age and position though, I believe he still has a lot of room for growth. He is very generous and hard-working, and if he keeps that attitude his growth will be constant.”

On his future, he added: “In the past, in my previous experiences, it was very rare with 14 games left to play for me to know what my professional future would be.

“I have a single clear objective in my mind: to do my best and get the most out of the season, we still have important objectives.”

“The meeting with Gazidis? It was necessary because we had an open face-to-face to discuss varying issues. It’s always the best way to handle things, even if we might have differing opinions.

“We are focused on our objective: to bring AC Milan back to European competition. We have two ways to achieve it: the league and the cup the fixture list means the cup is our first opportunity, so clearly we have to focus on it.

“That’s what we are doing. I always time I played the name on the back doesn’t matter, all that matters is the badge on our chest.”

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