Pioli addresses derby disappointment, difficult period and importance of Juventus game

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli confirmed that Rafael Leao will be the captain against Juventus, while he suggested that his time at the club has been full of extremes in terms of how it is perceived, with ‘no middle ground’.

It would be an understatement to say that Pioli is not enjoying the best of times at the moment having seen his side get knocked out of the Europa League by Roma and then having lost the derby against Inter on Monday night.

Virtually every reliable source is claiming that the Pioli era at Milan is coming to an end, but in the meantime there is still the objective of locking up second place to fight for, and in this sense Saturday’s game is huge.

Juventus missed the chance to close the gap on the Rossoneri to three points by drawing against Cagliari, but a home win at the Allianz Stadium would reopen the battle for second, something which has economic and sporting motivations.

Pioli spoke to the reporters who gathered at Milanello on the eve of the trip north for his pre-match press conference, and his comments were transcribed by MilanNews.

Before the important period of the season you also spoke about the match against Juventus, which remains important…

“It absolutely must be like this, also unfortunately due to the negative results we had in the Europa League and in the derby. The focus must be to get back to winning, there were ten delicate days.”

What’s the mood in the dressing room now?

“It’s easy with quotes, we cannot stop at these disappointments that we have given to our fans. Of course we must have the pride and strength to remain united to win the remaining matches between now and the end of the season.

“We are professionals, we are attacked because of what we do. We suffer from this situation, but we have the duty to have broad shoulders, to get up and then put our best possible performances on the field.”

What will we see from an emotional point of view from Milan tomorrow?

“We will have to fight, we will have to give our all as if it were the last game. This is how we have to think. We have to fight for every ball, we have to be concentrated, we have to overcome an opponent who is doing well but we want to defend second place.”

Do you think the team gave everything this year?

“We have given everything, yes, but we have not always managed to put our best qualities on the field, certainly yes. Inter have been the strongest team in the league for four years and have only won two Scudetti.

“We have never been the strongest team in the league. We tried to fight for the top positions, sometimes we succeeded and sometimes less. We gave everything mentally but we weren’t always able to raise our level of play.”

Is it difficult to make sense of these last five days?

“No, no, why difficult? There are five games left, we have a lot of points available, we have to demonstrate who we are and that we are Milan. We want to get out of these 10 difficult days by putting our best qualities on the field.”

Have these been the most difficult 10 days since you have been coaching Milan?

“In these almost five years there has been no middle ground. Either very positive moments or very negative moments. I can’t tell you if it is the most negative, but it is the closest and therefore also the most painful.

“If I could change the result I would give everything I have to change the derbies, but it can’t be done anymore. I for one have to have broad shoulders, understand that it’s part of the game and it’s part of my job. We have to demonstrate who we are until the end.”

Will Leao be the captain tomorrow? How is he experiencing it?

“Yes, tomorrow he will be the captain. He is experiencing it like all his team-mates and like all of us. It was a strong pain to lose the derby and see our rivals celebrate. We just have to react with the next matches.”

It has been a roller coaster season. Was there a lack of balance?

“Let’s wait for the end of the season, then everyone will make their own assessments. There is some positive and certainly some negative.”

What was the thing that brought you to this state of mind, other than the last game?

“The exit from the Europa League and that month where we broke away from Inter. Inter are stronger, more consistent, solid and we haven’t managed to maintain that level there, but we’re not the only ones who haven’t maintained our Inter’s level.”

Ibra’s role, what did he tell you?

“Zlatan was here yesterday and the day before yesterday. He is always close to us. He tries to give us trust and support to overcome a delicate moment. We win together, we rejoiced together and we are sad together. Together we try to overcome difficult moments.”

Is Milan, speaking from the point of view of the men and their temperament, ready to manage the aftermath of the storm?

“We have to. This is also a test. If you want to stay at a high level, you have to demonstrate that you can overcome the most difficult difficulties. It’s another test of growth for this group.”

There was no post-match conference at the derby…

“I didn’t want to not have the conference, it was the club’s choice [the press officer present next to the coach also confirms this]. I have always assumed my responsibility and will continue to do so.”

Milan have a positive recent trend against Juve…

“It’s important to give your best and be very attentive and determined because it’s a very important match for the table and for our mood. We have to be at 100% in all situations.”

What was the priority in the derby?

“My choices started with first being a compact team in the defensive phase, consequently on the characteristics of the players who guaranteed me this strategy and then also to try to have chances in possession of the ball.

“The plan worked up to a certain point, then when you concede a goal from a set piece you put your opponents in ideal conditions, they know how to counter with great quality and with many players.”

Chukwueze and Okafor are in good form…

“Chukwueze and Okafor are well and ready to play. Then it’s up to me to make the choices.”

Are Ibra and Theo figures from which to relaunch? Is Theo ready to be a leader?

“These will be choices that the club will have to make. I have no doubts about Zlatan’s charisma, technical and human qualities. I need not be his sponsor. These are not things that I can decide, they are things that will be decided above me.

“I don’t know what role will Zlatan have, but Zlatan loves Milan and wants the best for Milan. He will make the best decisions for what his tasks and ideas will be future of Milan.”

You went with Adli over Bennacer in the derby…

“Isma is not yet at 100% of his physical condition, the two matches against Roma had not satisfied me completely. At the moment Adli is very attentive in the defensive phase, I think he is the best player reliable.”

Were the red cards in the derby really necessary?

“The derby is the derby, there was a lot involved in the match. Of course it would have been better to have everyone available for tomorrow, but I don’t feel like criticising anything in particular.”

During the celebrations, Inzaghi complimented Milan, saying that they will be a very solid opponent in the future too. Is he right right? Can the 17-point gap be overturned next season?

“This is a credit to Inzaghi, but I think it’s much easier to compliment your opponents when you win. If I have to tell the truth, I don’t remember last year how many points Inter were from Napoli, a lot I think. So the seasons then change, they disappear. Of course the level is very high, to be at that level Milan must be very strong.”

The problem of letting in too many goals continues…

“Because especially in the last few games we have found opponents who are immediately ready and very good at exploiting our mistakes. Our opponents have also made mistakes and we haven’t been so good at exploiting them.”

Tags AC Milan Juventus-Milan Stefano Pioli


  1. It’s ridiculous how calm and level-headed this man is, with this much negativity surrounding the team; not turning on anyone, not singling out anyone for blame. It’s a skill, an underrated skill; and Milan will miss this when he’s gone.

    1. He can be the emotional coach for next season, and we get someone else to do the tactics and technical coaching if you like his level headedness

Comments are closed

Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.