On the eve of the clash between Milan and Genoa, scheduled for 12:30 CEST, Stefano Pioli spoke to the media at the usual press conference this afternoon. As the top-four race is tight, the Rossoneri need the three points.
Milan did well to come away with all three points against Parma despite a red card in the second half, securing the deal in stoppage time. However, they need to continue on this path in order to keep their spot in the top four.
They are just four points clear off fourth and it’s clear that it will be tight until the end of the season. This is one of the things that Pioli spoke about at the presser, as cited by MilanNews, in addition to other topics.
How important is the victory tomorrow?
“It’s the desire we all have. We want to return to win at San Siro, after a long time. We will have to do it with precise choices, trying to have more quality in the last quarter of the pitch.”
What is the alternative to Ibrahimovic; what can Mandzukic and Leao give?
“I’m happy that Mario is fine. He doesn’t have 90 minutes in his legs but he has had a great week of training. He knows how to move very well, rarely making mistakes. Leao knows how to vary his game very well and go deep.”
What do you think of Mandzukic’s gesture?
“Mario has suffered a lot from not being available in recent months. He arrived with great enthusiasm. I have never had any doubts about his moral and technical qualities. He will help us from here to the end.”
Are we expecting a different Milan in the attitude at home?
“We evaluated our performances at home. We faced different opponents with different attitudes. We need to be more focused in the last quarter and attack with more conviction and quality.”
Could it be an exam for Leao?
“I’m convinced of Leao’s growth, I find myself fielding a much-improved player compared to last season for the will he puts into the game. We have a great goal to achieve and we are all under scrutiny. You must be worried, so you prepare better for the match.”
There are moments in a season that are more important than others. Other teams have tough matches tomorrow. Is tomorrow a great opportunity for Milan?
“Tomorrow there is Milan-Genoa, we only think about our match and our opponents. We must be ready to face an opponent of great quality and who has done very well with their new coach. We will have to have a lot of determination.”
Have you talked to Donnarumma?
“I speak constantly with the players. Our future is now. Gigio knows how important tomorrow’s game is, just like the team. For other situations, I’m fortunate to have a very attentive club. Maldini spoke appropriately last Saturday before the match. We are all concentrated at Milanello.”
Can we see Manduzkic again next year?
“He’s a strong player with important values. These last matches are important for all of us, for the club and for the future of all of us. He’s a man with important values and who has always been reliable in his career.”
What do you think about some of the cards?
“Refereing in Serie A is very difficult. I thought the absence of an audience could facilitate refereeing, but I didn’t consider the many words of players and coaches. We have a high-level referee class.”
What do you think of Franck Kessie’s season?
“Franck has become a complete player. He knows how to combine everything inside the game. He’s very attentive and available in all situations. He has improved in handling the ball. He’s a player who has reached a very high level but he can still grow. He can make fewer mistakes and must make fewer mistakes in the position plays.”
What has Tomori’s impact been and would you like to have him next year?
“I have a lot of respect for your questions but I hear and see that we are talking about the future. We have to think about the present and not about players who can be with us next year. Tomori’s impact is very positive both mentally and in terms of performance. But now, let’s think about tomorrow’s match ”
There has been a lot of talk about many off-field issues. How do you manage a final rush?
“For us, there are no distractions. We continue to work according to our principles. I see a determined and eager team. We are halfway up the climb and until you see the top you have to keep pedalling.”
Are spotlights on Ibrahimovic an inconvenience for the team?
“With him, I talked about the match as well as with the others, I saw him attentive and involved as always, unfortunately for us, he will not be present due to suspension against Genoa.”
What do you think about Genoa?
“I coached Badelj and he’s an attentive and quality player. They are a complete team, which covers the zones well. They don’t have a lot of ball possession but play vertically. It is a physical team and difficult to overcome”
How did Leao train this week?
“Leao has the important quality of entering a game well but he also played good games from the start. His substitute qualities can be useful to the team. I see a player who is much more attentive both in daily life and in the game, he can grow even more. Dalot trains very well as well as the other members of the team. This is important.”
Scamacca is a quality player. Would you like to train him?
“He’s a very promising young player, with clear characteristics. He’s certainly a strong player with prospects”.
The attitude from ‘away’ tomorrow at San Siro?
“Going ahead or behind can change a lot during the match. With Sampdoria, the approach was not positive, against Genoa we want to enter the field with a more aggressive and more decisive approach.”
How will Rebic and Leao move tomorrow?
“They are important players. If they move with the right timing, they can give us good solutions.”
Is conceding goals in the first part of the second half a fact that you have analyzed?
“Yes, it’s another fact that we have analyzed, we can change something at the beginning of the second half to be more ready mentally and physically. We have to stay for 95 minutes in the game with great attention.”
Could the return of the fans change the status of the games?
“I have to say that we can’t wait to see our fans at the stadium again. Football is made of enthusiasm and passion. Even when there are only 1000 spectators it makes the difference. It could give strength and emotion.”
As mentioned, the game is scheduled for 12:30 CEST tomorrow and Milan need to start the game right. Fighting from behind is never easy and especially not in these times, when the pressure is at maximum.