Head coach Stefano Pioli believes his Milan side suffered most from ‘pressure and tension’ which produced a performance lacking in ‘pace and quality’.
Milan missed a huge opportunity to secure their spot in the top four as they failed to beat an already-safe Cagliari at San Siro. In what was a scrappy game littered with mistakes and poor execution in the final third, Milan were unable to breakdown a resolute away side who had learned that they have Serie A status for another season just a couple of hours before the game.
The draw means that Milan know they must beat Atalanta on the final day of the season to guarantee a return to the Champions League, but if Juve better their result then they will be resigned to the Europe League again.
Pioli was interviewed by Sky Italia at the end of the game and he assessed the draw, with his comments transcribed by MilanNews and translated below.
Are you already thinking about the next game?
“It must be like this, useless to think about what we could do. It wasn’t our best night, the pace and quality didn’t match up to the latest performances. Even against Juve it had to be the match of a lifetime, we proved we have the qualities to do well on Sunday as well,” he said.
What went wrong?
“In today’s game a bit of everything went by in terms of emotions, we knew that by winning we could close everything so there was a bit of pressure and tension, maybe even the belief that we could win it anyway. We could move the ball faster to find more advantageous situations.”
Do you believe in fate? The circle opened and can be closed against Atalanta…
“The circle will certainly close because it is the last match. Tonight there is great disappointment, we leave tomorrow morning. Atalanta are the only high-level opponent that we have not been able to beat in my year and a half, they are very strong. We will prepare ourselves to succeed.”
What meant you didn’t win the game?
“The result this afternoon gave them more serenity, it gives you the possibility to be freer. To us the conviction of ‘it will come’. On the other hand, if you don’t approach it the right way, the result won’t come, if it’s not your evening, even with a bit of luck, the result won’t come.”
Explain the substitutions you made…
“I changed Bennacer to have more dynamism and physicality in the middle of the field and on dead balls. Mandzukic had a lot of problems and this morning we called him up at the last minute. He had no more minutes [to give].”
Are Milan missing a deputy to Ibra?
“Yes, but you also need to have some balance in the evaluations. In the last two games there were no Zlatan, I heard first that we are Ibradependent and then that we play better without him. Mandzukic was taken for this but he has been through a lot since he arrived at Milan. In January our idea was to have a centre-forward ready. Today we did not lose for deputy Ibra but for a too tense situation.”
What would change between fourth and fifth place?
“It would change. For the whole season we have done, not finishing in the top four would certainly be a disappointment but not a failure, this year we have laid the foundations for a winning Milan future.”