AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has revealed that he still hasn’t decided who will start up front against Bologna, but did confirm Ante Rebic and Franck Kessie will miss the game due to injury.
The Rossoneri will make the trip to Bologna looking to avenge Tuesday night’s 1-0 defeat against Porto in Portugal that made their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League very slim.
Sinisa Mihajlovic’s Rossoblu will be the opponents tomorrow, and Milan have their eye on making it eight wins out of nine to begin the Serie A season, with an eye on the fact Inter play Juventus and Napoli face Roma.
Pioli spoke to the reporters who gathered inside the press room at Milanello on the eve of Milan’s trip to face Bologna at the Stadio Renato dall’Ara, with his comments transcribed by MilanNews and translated below.
What kind of a meeting will it be with Mihajlovic?
“We have been facing each other for three years, it means that there is good programming in the two clubs. Many things have changed, however, football is made up of steps and changes. Now Bologna has changed the way they play, an opponent is waiting for us with good quality.”
How have the days after the defeat in Porto been?
“We evaluated the performances, the few positive and the negative ones. Then we returned to the field to prepare for tomorrow’s match, it will be a difficult match. Now let’s think about the next three league games, then we’ll think about the Champions League.”
How is Ibrahimovic, and could he start tomorrow?
“Ibra needs to train and play. He has been training in a group for a week. His playing time will be increasing, I still have to decide who will start between him and Giroud.”
Are Milan going through a difficult moment?
“It is not a difficult moment, in a long and busy season like ours it is normal to have periods like this. I have a competitive squad and we are ready for tomorrow.”
Who will you recover for tomorrow?
“Compared to the match in Porto we recover Conti and Castillejo. Kessie had a strong flu and will be out tomorrow.”
Tomorrow you will reach the milestone of 100 games as Milan manager…
“I’m focused on tomorrow, I didn’t know about this milestone. It’s normal that it’s nice to be here, I feel good with everyone and I’m fine with everyone. We have to think about the present; we talk a lot about the future, a lot about the league, a lot about the Champions League: we have to think about doing well tomorrow. The season is still very long and we must have our strength in continuity. ”
Has Rebic recovered?
“No, he tried but he still has pain in his ankle.”
How do you asses the Porto performance?
“We are aware that we had a bad game. We lost too many balls and were not very compact in defense. We understood our mistakes, we must try not to repeat them tomorrow against an opponent who will put us in difficulty.”
What do you say to those who claim that Milan should focus only on the league?
“It’s not our way of thinking, it’s not our mentality. It is always better to embark on an impossible journey than not even starting. We will fight in all competitions.”
How’s Castillejo doing? Could he play tomorrow?
“I saw him well as I saw all my players well. Castillejo is available and he is one of those who could play.”
Could Tomori rest tomorrow?
“Everyone is fine, including Tomori. He’s available, then we’ll see if he plays. The team will be decided tomorrow morning.”
Are you thinking of playing with two strikers? How is Pellegri?
“The current condition of Ibra and Giroud does not allow us to play with the two strikers, when they are well they can play together. Pellegri had a small problem and he won’t be there tomorrow.”
Will you watch the other big games in Serie A this weekend?
“It is too early to look at the standings, we only have to think about our game.”
Is Calabria on the left possible?
“He is an intelligent player, he could also play on the left but if I can I keep him on the right.”
How do you judge the criticism of Daniel Maldini?
“The first half against Verona was difficult for everyone. Daniel is growing and will be ready.”
What Bologna do you expect?
“With Lazio they won by waiting for their opponent and countering quickly. I know Mihajlovic, we are prepared for any attitude but moving the ball quickly will count: we will have to make them move.”
What did the Porto defeat teach you?
“The team has always learned from its mistakes. We can and must do better, tomorrow we have to prove it. We face a team with important qualities. They will be motivated, they are fine and they have had the whole week to prepare for the match. We will have to stay focused and be convinced of our means.”
What battles do you expect tomorrow?
“Football and basketball are different sports, but duels are always created on the pitch. Whoever wins the most duels is the team that has the most chance of winning the match.”
Are Milan back?
“I am disappointed when we do not play at our level and we do not win, but I am convinced that we have a team that knows how to recover and how to play football.”