Pioli hints at changes for Milan vs. Parma, defends Donnarumma and discusses Leao – full transcript

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has revealed that he will make changes for Wednesday’s game against Parma, and jumped to the defence of Gianluigi Donnarumma.

The Rossoneri are undefeated since the resumption of Serie A having beaten Roma, Lazio and Juventus in the six games since the break, with the most recent result being a battling 2-2 draw at Napoli on Sunday night.

They face a rival for the Europa League spot at home on Wednesday night, and La Gazzetta dello Sport reported earlier on Tuesday how Pioli could make a couple of changes compared to the XI deployed against the Partenopei.

Pioli spoke to reporters at Casa Milan ahead of the Rossoneri’s home game against Parma at San Siro, and his words were transcribed by MilanNews.

“We must continue to make points if we want to return to Europe. Tomorrow we face a difficult team, we must be well prepared from all points of view,” he said.

On this identity of his team: “We have built a way of being on the pitch and a precise mentality. We do not start from scratch tomorrow evening, we have our game philosophy and our mentality that has led us to obtain important results.

“We must continue like this. The next six games will tell us what team we are. It’s nice that managers appreciate our work. We have to go on like this.”

Milan have had a problem against the so-called ‘lesser teams’ so far this season, but Pioli doesn’t think it is a problem.

“It is played with the head more than with the body. If we played the Ferrara game 100 times, we will win it 99 times. We were unable to score goals despite the many chances we had, but tomorrow there must be a lot of concentration.”

What do Milan expect in the next matches from a physical point of view?

“We have a way of playing that requires great intensity. Tomorrow I will choose who has recovered well. Changing a few players does not mean changing our philosophy. Tomorrow both who starts and who will enter later will be important.”

On Ibrahimovic: “The injury took away some of his condition. Tomorrow morning I will decide who to start from the beginning. Ibra is a winner, he came out not happy because we were losing. It is true, he is very motivated”.

On Bonaventura: “Jack is a great player. He is doing well both entering the game and when starting. We have worked well in the past few weeks. We need a lot of effort between now and the end of the season and we need everyone. It will take spirit of sacrifice by all.”

What difficulties did the team have in Naples?

“It is more difficult to be a real team when things are hard than when they are easy. We have shown that we know how to suffer and get out of a complicated match because Napoli are a good team.”

On Theo Hernandez’s exploits this season, Pioli added: “His performance is constant. For his physique, he thrives in the current game style.

“In Naples he had a difficult opponent in Callejon, but he was very careful. He played a game that coaches really like. He scored, but he did good also in the defensive phase where he has improved a lot. He can become one of the best full backs in the world.”

When will Leao have a chance to start?

“He is growing a lot, he has incredible potential, but he can still grow a lot. I like his attitude. I have many solutions.

“He is an external striker or a second striker. The important thing is that you continue like this, we will see the real Leao next year. A young person arriving from abroad is normal to have to settle in.”

Gianluigi Donnarumma was criticised for some potential errors that he made against Napoli, but Pioli is far from worried.

“Gigio has great balance, he does not break down after criticism and is not carried away when things are going well. For me, he is not to blame for Napoli’s goals. His performance is very high. He is having great improvements.”

Tags AC Milan Rafael Leao Stefano Pioli theo hernandez Zlatan Ibrahimovic