AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has confirmed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Olivier Giroud will miss the game against Juventus.
Milan will be looking to bounce back from Wednesday night’s defeat at Liverpool in which they showed plenty of positive signs but ultimately came up short. They have won three out of three in Serie A and will put their 100% record on the line against a side that have taken just one point from nine and are struggling after Max Allegri’s return.
Pioli spoke to the reporters who gathered at the Milanello conference room to answer their questions ahead of what is a huge early-season clash for both teams at the Allianz Stadium tomorrow, with his comments relayed by MilanNews and translated below.
During the big games, it is possible to suffer, but does reacting mean growth?
“Yes, but we got burned in Liverpool at the start of the match. Our fans were with us too. Everything was at the top and we struggled, the reality is that a team in difficulty has been able to react against a very strong opponent.
“But we have to be aware that there is still a difference. We won in the league because we put more quality than our opponents, in Liverpool we lost because of this. I hope it can help us grow a lot.”
You will face Allegri’s Juve for the first time as Milan coach, did you expect their slow start?
“I am pleased to find Max, a great coach and a very intelligent person. It was difficult to expect Juve in this situation, but I don’t think we will be favorites tomorrow. Juve have great champions and great tradition, I hope they are very balanced. Who will win? The team that will play the best football will have more chances to win.”
On the injury situation: “Ibrahimovic would like to be Superman but he still can’t. He hasn’t had great improvements, he won’t be available tomorrow just as there will be no Giroud who suffered from low back pain.”
On Brahim Diaz and Tomori: “They have great quality and availability, they are looking for more detail to keep growing. They have made good use of the experience in a new league, it is not easy to adapt so quickly. They are quality and very serious guys.”
Are Milan among the favourites for the Scudetto?
“We feel we are a strong team, we always prepare to win. On Wednesday we found someone stronger than us, it will be an incentive to raise the level even more. In Serie A the competitiveness is very high, the top 7 are very close as values on paper. The field determines, tomorrow we will have to try to be better than our opponents.”
Has Milan already chased away the ghost of Donnarumma with Maignan?
“We have no ghosts, we know what Gigio has given for this team. We have a great goalkeeper, I really like him for the way he faces the daily work and the game. He did everything very quickly despite arriving late for the European Championships, he has a great merit: he wants to know everything and is very curious. We have a strong goalkeeper, he must continue like this.”
Could the 10-minute spell at Anfield (when the Rossoneri took the lead) be enough to win in Italy?
“No, definitely not. I think it was more than 10 minutes. To review our goal disallowed we can only congratulate their defenders, the details make the difference. In Italy we won because we played well and we were a team for 90 minutes. We have to play carefully and be clear-headed throughout the game.”
When will the time for Pellegri and Messias come?
“The time will come when the time is right, when they will be in a position to help the team. Messias is not yet and it is a pity, Pellegri, on the other hand, is well and is available. It may be that he will be his first appearance tomorrow. He has good characteristics, a nice attitude.”
When will Milan officially rebel in the face of the comments from Raiola?
“On Bakayoko I am proud to be part of a club that fights on the front line against discrimination. Raiola does his job, I do mine. I agree with Raiola that Romagnoli is a great defender, I will send all those who are motivated to the field and for now they are all focused on the field.”
Allegri said that it is a more important game for Milan than for Juve…
“It is a very important match for both teams, a direct match. I remain convinced that for the final result of the standings it will be useful to score as many points as possible with the teams beyond the first 7. We prepare all matches with the same attention and motivation.
“I expect an aggressive Juve, we must be prepared for all situations. As far as we are concerned, we have our attitudes in the defensive phase. Some teams have more quality and the more you run risks if you bring them closer.”
On the gap with the Premier League: “It’s a good question, let me say that what we saw at Liverpool: the pitch, the stadium… Surely we can say that they are at the top, they are at very high levels and among four teams that can win the Champions League, their level is very high. We are trying to reach them, it takes time and growth, not only on the pitch but also in the infrastructure.”
How can you beat Allegri’s Juve?
“What happened last year is the past, tomorrow will be another match. You can beat them trying to play with attention and intensity higher than theirs. Only in this way can games be won and we will try.”
On injuries: “By playing so often it is inevitable that these situations can arise. We are playing games of great intensity, I think the situation can improve but only in matches from the next stop.”
On Leao and his chemistry with Theo Hernandez: “Rebic and Leao are two different players, Leao is more for one against one. Rebic has better times in the plays on the bank. On the left wing we are very dangerous, the understanding is growing. The important thing is that Rafa is inside the game and that he continues his growth as he is showing this season. Tomorrow I don’t think Cuadrado will play full-back but Danilo.”
Has this team grown up? “We have always focused a lot on our work and on our balance, we did not leave Anfield satisfied. We analysed our performance and we saw that in certain situations we could do better. We think we are a strong group, my words are of little use because it will be the field that gives the result.”
On where the team can improve: “We can improve in construction, they attacked us hard but not in numerical parity. We can find holes, when we did we created a lot and scored two very good goals. When we work with our quality positions and high speed we have shown that we can put very strong opponents in difficulty.”
What will prevail tomorrow? Is Milan convinced that they are a top-level team or are you afraid of Anfield’s psychophysical effort?
“What I expect is a stronger and more aware Milan, which has learned from a few burns what it means to play at a high level. Tomorrow will be another game of the highest level, they are all champions and all internationals, they still think they can win the Scudetto. We want to be a team with personality that wants to lead the games, we have to be active in all phases of the game. If this is the case then it will surely be a good match.”
How is the group doing after Liverpool?
“The group has that result in it but they are ready for tomorrow. Now we are focused on the league, we are first in the standings and we want to have another good performance. We will have to take good positions in midfield, which are what they missed. Liverpool.”