Pioli admits he ‘felt pain’ celebrating and reveals what ‘strange’ Leao said about favoured role

By Isak Möller -

AC Milan got back to winning ways this evening as they beat Torino by one goal to nil at San Siro. Stefano Pioli was understandably relieved as he spoke to the media afterwards, but he knows that the road is still long. 

After seven games without a win, the Rossoneri bounced back and claimed all three points against Torino this evening. Olivier Giroud ended up being the big hero as he scored the winner in the second half with a trademark header.

Speaking to DAZN, as cited by MilanNews, Pioli shared his thoughts on the win and was asked about the role of Rafael Leao, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.

“We absolutely must see this as a rebirth. We knew it would be difficult, that Torino don’t allow you to build moves cleanly with their high press, but we worked really hard both offensively and defensively,” he began.

“The goal removed a mental block too, we played better than at the start of the game. It was a small step that we needed. We work every day to achieve results, we haven’t been able to achieve that in recent weeks, which caused us both mental and physical pain.”

On his celebration after the goal: “When I was celebrating, I felt pain (laughs). We work every day to get results and we haven’t succeeded. Getting into the Champions League again would be a good result, but there are many games to go. An important victory but we must give continuity.”

On the formation: “I think the coach has to analyze the team’s performance and figure out where to start again. We were conceding four goals per game and something was missing. We have the characteristics to play in a different way, but I’m not interested in playing with a three or a four-man defence.

“We need to find brilliance and start over from a more solid defensive phase. Then we’ll go back to playing with four, when we have better conditions, but the important thing is to have this spirit. It’s the first step that must be continuous to our growth.

“We’ll see, I have to see Tomori and Bennacer’s conditions. We face teams that look a lot like us, we’ll see what strategies to adopt. The team has evolved from a tactical point of view.”

On Leao: “Rafa is a strange player. I’ve always thought that putting him wide would help him, but these days, where I’ve tried him, he said it’s his favourite position. But he wants and must work on the pitch in that position. We’ll also see based on the opponents.”

On Giroud: “Oli is very important. He’s a leader, but I think Milan have many important players.”

On the results: “You feel the negative results, you live the day, the week with tension and concern, with less serenity, but coaching such a responsible group… we can’t forget the support of the fans. The team is trying to get back to playing at certain levels.”

Milan will take on Tottenham in the Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday and tonight’s win was a much-needed confidence boost ahead of that. Of course, it still won’t be an easy game for Pioli’s men.

Tags AC Milan Stefano Pioli Torino


  1. Anybody have a… more helpful English translation of these comments?

    “Rafa is a strange player. I’ve always thought that putting him wide would help him, but these days, where I’ve tried him, he said it’s his favourite position. But he wants and must work on the pitch in that position. We’ll also see based on the opponents.”

    1. The translation is that Pioli must go!
      That performance was all over the shot
      Pioli says that he felt pain? He has no idea what to do next and the players are confused

      If Milan had played anyone else they would have been 2 goals down in the first half.

    2. Basically Pioli believes Rafa is best on the wing while Rafa prefers to play more central like in the match so he’s basically saying he’s strange as he’s had so much success on the wing

  2. Yes, Rafael Leao is a striker in first place. And a top player like him must play more at the center. Play him with Giroud up there, support with a Trequartista (CDK or Brahim Diaz).

    So please try 4-3-1-2, our midfielders look need more cover to win the possesion, our home work is cut the opponent’s distributor to our final third, the midfielders must help to cut it, don’t put too many Defenders at final third, we look play too defensive, waiting opponents get in our final third.

    1. Leao is an inside forward/second striker. If you’ve ever watched Leao play at the main striker he gets far too disinterested because he goes far too long without touching the ball. Him playing off the front man allowed him to roam around more and pick up the ball deep which allows him to drive. Which is what he does on the flank.

      But players like Leao Neymar Hazard Ronaldinho really are inside forward/SS players who because of modern single striker/#9 formations. Got moved out wide because coaches would rather them lose the ball in the channels then in the middle of the pitch because its further away from the goal.

  3. Pioli interpretation of leao role is simple and you guys are saying a different thing entirely.
    Playing on the wings requires you to be able to cover up in defence and be able to run tirelessly, leao in my opinion is lazy and not interested in the general play of the game.

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