Pioli preaches importance of ‘control’ vs. Spurs but confirms major absentee

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has urged his side to try and control the game against Spurs, and believes the squad are better equipped than previous encounters against Premier League sides.

With the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana now gone and the Scudetto seemingly headed towards Naples, the Champions League is the last objective for the season that Milan remain in the running for.

While the target may not be to win the competition given the level of the other sides left in it, and Spurs may be favourites coming into the tie, there is still a desire to go as far as possible for the obvious sporting prestige but also the revenues a run into the knockouts brings.

Pioli spoke to the reporters who gathered at Milanello for his pre-match press conference to preview another battle with Antonio Conte, and his comments were relayed by MilanNews.

What Milan will we see tomorrow?

“If we want to think we can win matches, we’ll need a high quality and intense Milan. We’ve prepared ourselves for this.”

Tomorrow you will face an English team led by an Italian…

“The difficulties multiply. Conte prepares the matches well. They are an English team, therefore a team that plays with great intensity, coached by an Italian. Conte is a great coach, he is one of the few coaches who called me after the Scudetto. I was very pleased.”

How is Bennacer? Will there be tomorrow?

“He’s not 100% yet, we can’t risk it, so he won’t be there tomorrow.”

Who are the top Italian coaches?

“Difficult question. There are many, such as Ancelotti, Conte and Spalletti for example.”

The Champions League has always been talked about as Milan’s favourite stage…

“I know what we feel and what we will hear tomorrow in front of our fans. We will be very motivated.”

What do you have to do tomorrow to win?

“Milan must play well and try to control the game. We must always try to be dangerous. They have a great trident, so we’ll need to be compact.”

In which role do you see De Ketelaere best in this new formations?

“We play with two trequartisti, so that’s the best position.”

Would you have preferred to face Spurs not after a heavy defeat?

“The week before they beat City. We just have to think about playing well in this game.”

How much do you believe in winning the Champions League?

“We believe we can get through this round. We’re thinking about taking one step at a time. Winning the Champions League would be a dream, but it’s useless to think about it now.”

Are you more ready than last year when you faced Liverpool?

“Sure. The experiences we’ve had in recent months have helped us.”

How have you seen the team these days?

“We play in the Champions League and we want to do well. I have seen a team that has prepared at its best.”

Tags AC Milan Stefano Pioli
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