Pioli discusses ‘difficult’ Fiorentina clash and Theo’s absence: “With different characteristics”

By Isak Möller -

On the eve of the important clash between AC Milan and Fiorentina, Stefano Pioli spoke to the media at his usual press conference. He admitted that it will be a very tough clash and also shared some injury updates. 

Milan headed into the international break with a good feeling thanks to the 3-1 win against Hellas Verona, cementing their spot in the standings. However, now an important and tough clash at Stadio Artemio Franchi awaits, also without the suspended Theo Hernandez.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference, as cited by MilanNews, Pioli shared his thoughts on the task and hand and what Milan will need to clinch all three points. He also discussed the absence of Hernandez.

You know Fiorentina well. Tomorrow will be the first match without Barone…

“Unfortunately, it’s not the first situation of this type to happen to Fiorentina. Florence and the Viola fans are fantastic when they have to unite in difficulties. A particular environment will await us at the start given that the memory of Barone is still alive, then it will be a match difficult.”

How are the national team players?

“Those who stayed at home recovered some energy and worked well. Tomorrow Kjaer won’t be there, he came back with a muscle strain and tomorrow, as a precaution, he won’t be there. The one who played the most is Pulisic, I’ll evaluate him, but yesterday he seemed in good condition.”

How did you experience the Acerbi-Juan Jesus case?

“It becomes difficult for me to judge the incident because I don’t have everything at hand, but we can’t help but all be against incidents of racism in stadiums. It’s time to stop.”

Feelings about the season finale?

“The decisive period of the season begins. Everything we have done up until now is important, but it will all depend on the next matches. We must think about raising the level of our performances.”

On the distance with Inter…

“We cannot change the standings. Inter did something extraordinary, while we, especially in a month, were unable to obtain a few more victories. In recent months we have gotten closer both in terms of performances and results.”

How is Reijnders?

“He can become a complete midfielder. He is also improving when not in possession. He is already a high-quality midfielder. He is a great worker, he has ample room for improvement.”

What season finale awaits you?

“There are still many important matches. Now the most important one is tomorrow’s match in Florence where we have always found difficulties. You have talked a little too much about the future. We only have to think about the present and these last two months of the season. Then, at the end of the season, we will see what season it was and what I want for next year. Let’s just think about Fiorentina and then the following matches.”

Have you read the statements of Pupi Avati, who said that he will not support Milan as long as you are on the bench?

“I don’t have Pupi Avati’s number. If he no longer supports Milan because of my relationship with Maldini, he’s very wrong. I have an excellent relationship with Maldini, so he can easily return to supporting Milan if that’s what he wants to do.”

After the breaks, you have struggled a bit. How do you explain it?

“They were not the results we expected. Each break has a different story. After the first break, we had few players here and those who had gone to the national team had played a lot. In this break, we worked well and those who left came back well.”

How much will Theo be missed?

“We will definitely miss him. We will play with different characteristics and take advantage of Florenzi’s qualities which are different from those of Theo. Theo is demonstrating all his qualities.”

How is Bennacer?

“He had to work individually, but he made good use of this week. He’s fine and could even play from the start.”

How is the adaptation of Terracciano going?

“He suffered a bit from the impact of being a top club at the beginning. I’m fielding him as a full-back.”

Have you spoken to Giroud?

“He came back recharged and determined. I spoke with him, but no one here thinks about the future. He is as attentive and concentrated as always.”

What did you make of Okafor as a centre-forward?

“I chose Okafor to have the depth necessary to exploit him. He is doing very well both as a striker and on the left.”

What is the difference between Bennacer and Adli?

“Bennacer is the strongest midfielder we have in defensive one-on-ones, I think he is almost unbeatable when it comes to winning the ball. I think he can improve in reading some situations, perhaps stalling, you can’t always be aggressive. Adli is less skilled one-on-one, but he has very interesting characteristics.”

Why are Milan struggling so much in Florence?

“It’s not a coincidence. Fiorentina are strong at home. The difficulties are also due to the environment. Tomorrow we want to do better.”

What Fiorentina do you expect tomorrow?

“I expect an aggressive Fiorentina that attack with great players. These are things we would like to do as well.”

Without Theo, will Milan be less offensive?

“No. The characteristics will change but not our approach. Maybe some positions will change in the setup phase.”

In order to avoid Scudetto celebrations for Inter in the derby, Milan will more or less need to win their games ahead of the big clash at the end of April. Juventus are still lurking in the standings too, so good results will be needed to defend second place.

Tags AC Milan Fiorentina Stefano Pioli
Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.