Pioli dismisses ‘incorrect’ comparison; declares Milan would not be happy with sixth-placed finish

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has branded comparisons between Gianluigi Donnarumma and Ciprian Tatarusanu as ‘unfair’ and urged his side not to underestimate Sparta Praha.

The Rossoneri somewhat felt the absence of their No.1 shot stopper on Monday night as Tatarusanu made a glaring error for Roma’s first goal as Donnarumma is currently sidelined with Coronavirus and is expected to miss at least the Udinese game.

Pioli was interviewed by Milan TV on the eve of the Europa League match against Sparta Praha, with his comments transcribed by MilanNews and translated below.

On Tatarusanu, he began: “He is an exemplary professional, he is an excellent goalkeeper, I think the comparisons with Donnarumma are incorrect, they are two players in the same role with important characteristics.

“He has my complete trust and that of his team-mates, we don’t have time to process, we only have time to try to evaluate our work well and try to understand certain errors to try to improve what we are doing.”

On the opponent: “You must never underestimate anyone, especially in the European field. Sparta Prague have won all six league games, they are a team that plays intense football, they are fast, modern, there will be many difficulties in tomorrow night’s match, that’s why we have to prepare well.”

Milan are on a 22-game unbeaten run having won 17 of those, currently sitting atop the Serie A table after five rounds of action, but Pioli knows resting on their laurels would be a big mistake for his side.

“We are working to obtain results, to grow, to become more and more competitive,” he said.

“Having achieved these results gives more conviction and strength to our work, this is what we must continue to insist on, because we are only at the beginning of the season and because this is only a partial result, we want to achieve a definitive result at the end of the season.”

On the teachings of the post-lockdown period: “Last season’s finale took a lot of effort, it also got us used to working with so many games, trying to recover well and prepare every single game in a short time but with accuracy.

“We are trying to do it every day, every week, we have a lot of commitments, that’s what we wanted, we don’t back down and think about one game at a time.”

On Leao and Theo Hernandez: “We are talking about two very young players who still have to fill their baggage, both from a technical and tactical point of view, and from a character point of view, but who certainly have important qualities.

“They must continue to grow and want these improvements and work with great application. They are lucky because they have talent but they know very well, we all know very well, that talent alone is not enough to achieve great results if not accompanied by work, passion, daily dedication.”

On the objectives for the season, Pioli concluded: “We are here to try to improve last season, I think none of us would be happy if at the end of this season we were still sixth or worse.

“We need to improve, to improve we must try to compete with the teams that have come in front of us. In Italy the season is very difficult, the results of the Italian teams in the Champions League are showing it, so we must continue to grow, to be very competitive and to continue match by match to try to improve our final position.”

Tags AC Milan Ciprian Tatarusanu Gianluigi Donnarumma Milan Sparta Praha Stefano Pioli