Pioli highlights importance of dominating midfield vs. Lazio; praises players for giving ‘110 per cent’

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has insisted that the focus in simply on qualifying for European competition, admitting he does not know what his future holds.

Milan inflicted a first home defeat of the season on Lazio on Saturday night, beating them 3-0 with an impressive performance.

The Rossoneri were dominant and professional from start to finish, controlling the game for large parts with an intense press and taking a deserved lead through Hakan Calhanoglu’s impressive striker.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic doubled it from the penalty spot before Ante Rebic was able to add a third in the second half, while a couple of simple late chances were missed that could have made the scoreline even more severe.

After the game Pioli spoke to DAZN and began by reflecting on just how his side were able to overpower such a strong opponent in the midfield.

“The team played well, we are satisfied with the victory, but with such a compressed calendar, our thoughts are already moving on to Juventus,” Pioli said (via Football Italia).

“We know our position in the standings and we need to keep pushing at this level. We used up a lot of energy again tonight, but I had a positive response from everyone and that will help me make my choices for the next match.

“When you prepare a game, you try to limit the strengths of the opposition. Lazio have a lot of quality and tried to play between the lines, so our midfield did a lot of work today and we kept our shape very well.

“We work really well at Milanello, I always said that I had a group of responsible players who are aware of the importance of the shirt they are wearing. I don’t know what will happen with our future, with my future, but we are too concentrated on fighting to the end so we can at least get Milan back into the Europa League.

“We won’t get the Champions League now, but Milan are a prestigious club and have to be in European competition.

“The players are continuing to give 110 per cent, even those who signed contracts to the end of the season and probably won’t remain here after that. They are determined to prove they are still strong players at this level and to give their best for Milan.

“It’s very important right now to talk to the players, get their sensations, understand who is tired and who needs a break. Rebic really needed a rest today. Ibra doesn’t have the full 90 minutes in his legs, but has certainly improved compared to the SPAL game midweek.”

Ibrahimovic returned to starting XI for the first time since the restart, and he could be seen on the touchline in the second half barking orders after being subbed off.

“Ibra has allowed us to grow in terms of mentality, quality, technique, it’s a real pleasure to work with him and see how he deals with his teammates. Now we’ve got a month left and can continue pushing all the way.”

Tags AC Milan Stefano Pioli