Stefano Pioli and his AC Milan side did their jobs this evening, knocking Tottenham out of the Champions League thanks to their 1-0 aggregate lead. After the success, the manager spoke to the media.
The Rossoneri knew that their 1-0 lead from the first leg was fragile and didn’t have a defensive approach to the game. In fact, they probably had the most dangerous chances of the evening, but failed to convert.
Speaking to Prime afterwards, as cited by MilanNews, Pioli shared his thoughts on the tactical success. Once again, he was asked about the three-man backline as the defenders were tremendous out there tonight.
On the success…
“We did well. I asked the team to play with personality, in the first half we could have dribbled even more. We played with personality, we never gave up. A well-deserved advancement for how we played the two games.”
Can this Milan dream?
“Milan must take one step at a time. It was important to get through the group stage to do better than last year, it was important to get through the round of 16 and now we’ll wait for the draw.
“Now let’s get back to the league, where we are a bit behind and the goal is to collect as many points as possible. Dreaming is beautiful and helps to work better. Now let’s focus on the league and then we’ll return to thinking about the Champions League.”
On the three-man defence…
“I took this decision after yet another defeat, the heavy one at home against Sassuolo, because it seemed few things from the old system worked, especially in the defensive phase. It’s not just a different formation, it’s all about the attitude. The team works harder. And then I also factored in that we have three centre-backs, but not just those who are playing, also Kjaer and Gabbia. The characteristics were there, it was the right moment but we have not changed our concepts.”
What would you like to see from the team in the pre and post-Champions League in terms of concentration to achieve results?
“I liked the adjectives that Sheva used first. The same energy, the same personality, the same desire. We have to be this kind of team. Serie A is difficult, but we have to play with this energy and personality. Playing in the Champions League is rewarding and important for Milan. So either we win it, which I don’t think will be easy, or we have to reach the top four.
“There’s a lot to do in the league. Now we have the possibility to recover a bit because we will play on Monday evening. It’s important to bring something positive from this performance on which to build our path in the league.”
You said difficult, not impossible…
“I like to think that nothing is impossible in sport. Then of course, only the strongest in Europe will remain and the difficulties will increase, but I’m sure all the experiences made in Europe, especially the negative ones, have helped us to level up. Now we have to take advantage of these positive experiences to grow in self-esteem and play in the quarter-finals with conviction and confidence.”
It remains to be seen who Milan will face in the quarter-finals. The draw will take place next week on Friday and potential opponents include Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Benfica and others (those legs will be decided next week).