Pioli discusses injury situation, Milan’s momentum and idea of changing system again

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has confirmed that Ismael Bennacer is back for the game against Fiorentina, but Brahim Diaz misses out through injury.

Milan had a dreadful start to 2023 as they went on a run of seven games without a win and crashed out of the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa in the process, but since January turned to February things have been a lot brighter.

The Rossoneri seem to have found their defensive stability again and have now gone over four and a half games without conceding a goal, racking up impressive wins against Spurs and Atalanta amid a run of four victories on the trot.

Tomorrow’s game will be a tough test against a dangerous Fiorentina side who put four past Milan at the Franchi last season. Pioli spoke at his pre-match press conference this afternoon, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.

The game tomorrow will be played on the day of Astori’s passing…

“Davide will certainly smile. For me the match in Florence is always special, tomorrow even more so. Davide is always with me. I’m happy with the association they have created in his name, he will do good. It will be a special match.”

Are you already thinking about the Champions League?

“Tomorrow’s match is very important, then we’ll think about the Champions League. Milan and Fiorentina are two similar teams, we want to keep winning.”

How has De Ketelaere looked?

“In every game, every player must think about being decisive. Tomorrow Diaz will not be there due to a slight knee sprain, so tomorrow it will be Charles’ turn.”

Are you worried about Juventus?

“We don’t look at the standings, every game is important.”

What did Astori leave with you?

“He left many lessons that we want to continue. He was an example of positivity, he was a true captain.”

Is it time to push?

“It’s time to give consistency to results and performances. We are the ones who condition our performances. We must continue to play matches with attention and determination. We have recovered important players, tomorrow there will also be Florenzi and Calabria among the squad.”

How has Thiaw looked?

“He has great application, defenders must never give up. Malick knows it. He’s still young but has excellent characteristics to become a great defender.”

Will Bennacer be called up?

“Yes he will be called up.”

When will Ibra be able to play as a starter?

“Even now, not for the whole game, but he will soon be able to do it. He has great desire, his return is very important for us. Training with or without Zlatan is different.”

What do you have to do to raise the bar again?

“Just train like the team did, with maximum attention and availability in preparation for the match. We will certainly put in the best performance tomorrow. We know the importance of the game in London, but we will have time to recover our energy.”

Thiaw’s agent said Malick’s integration was meant to go like this. Why did you wait so long to put him in?

“I have to make choices. If I didn’t choose him before, it’s because I thought a team-mate was more ready than him.”

Cardinale said he doesn’t talk to you about formation…

“I talk a lot with Maldini and Massara. Cardinale I often hear from after matches and never before. He knows that the coach has to handle certain situations.”

Could you change form tomorrow?

“It’s a goal to get play from winger to winger. We often attack with five players with the one away from the ball who has to attack the far post. Tomorrow we’ll attack the same way, but then it depends on the opponent. Then the secret is to be compact.”

Maignan and Ibra return and Milan win, just coincidences?

“No, there’s more: there’s the work and the quality of the players. Then we’re talking about players who raise the level of the team…”

Do your centre-forwards need to score more?

“Last year we didn’t have a 25-goal striker, we’re a team that can score with more players. Then I’d be happy if the forwards scored a lot, more for them. The work they’re doing is very important. There is no rotation, I play the best team.”

Could Giroud rest tomorrow?

“Turnover doesn’t exist. The best team will play.”

Do you suffer against Vincenzo Italiano teams?

“He’s one of the best young coaches. It’s difficult for everyone to play against Fiorentina. There will be difficulties tomorrow too, there will be moments in which we’ll suffer.”

How is Brahim Diaz doing?

“He had a slight sprain, we will do everything to get him back for Tottenham.”

How do you judge Milan’s momentum?

“It was a positive week, we have to insist because there are still many games and we have to obtain many points.”

How are Adli and Vranckx?

“They’re working well, they’re ready to play. Then I’ll make the choices.”

Can Rebic come in handy?

“He’s important for us, he has different characteristics from Leao but he can lend a hand to the team.”

Was the drop in January caused by this season’s anomaly with the World Cup in December?

“We had some difficulties. The season is anomalous for everyone, some paid for it more, some less. We paid dearly enough, but now we have the opportunity to get something back.”

Tags AC Milan Fiorentina Milan Stefano Pioli


  1. “Are you worried about Juventus?”
    What kind of question is that? Why would he be worried about Juventus? 😵‍💫

    1. They’re on good run and ready to pound that top 4 spot soon (Milan’s target). If it’s not because of the -15 points penalty, they’re ahead of us already.

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