AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli revealed that he said hello to Hakan Calhanoglu as normal after the game, and believes his team have learned from last season’s derby defeat.
Milan and Inter were both forced to settle for a draw in what was a fiercely contested Derby della Madonnina at San Siro that finished 1-1. The Nerazzurri were the more dominant side in the first half and took the lead from the penalty spot as Hakan Calhanoglu netted against his former side.
Their lead would last seven minutes before a cross Sandro Tonali was met by the head of Stefan de Vrij, who diverted the ball into the back of his own net the level the game. Another penalty was awarded before the break but this time Lautaro Martinez saw his attempt saved by Ciprian Tatarusanu.
After Napoli’s draw against Hellas Verona it means Milan are level again at the top and they keep a seven-point cushion on the Nerazzurri who stay in third. After the derby Pioli spoke at the post-match press conference, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.
What kind of a game was it?
“We started well, we were aggressive and we managed the game. Then we reacted and played ball after ball against a strong team.”
Can you comment on your selection? Did you say hello to Calhanoglu after the game?
“The choices were obvious because Saelemaekers seemed to me to have a decline in performance, especially from a technical point of view, and because I wanted to play with two players to take away points of reference from Inter. Calhanoglu? We said hello normally at the end of the game.”
Does this match confirm Milan’s Scudetto ambitions?
“There is an increase in both the awareness of our means and the certainty that in Italy the level of the teams will fight a lot. Tonight I saw a courageous team, with spirit, with initiative: certainly stronger than last year.”
Is the advantage over Inter already important?
“I believe that 7 points are few at the moment. Inter are a very strong team, there are 4-5 teams that will fight until the end for the Scudetto.”
What do you think of the choreography of the Rossoneri fans?
“I was not surprised because I learned to know the Rossoneri fans. In such a heartfelt and delicate match, to dedicate a thought to a professional category that worked hard in a difficult moment. I am proud of the Milan fans.”
On the head-to-head matches: “The difference will be made by the points earned in the other matches, even if we have shown that we can do well also in the head-to-head matches. The matches to be prepared as best as possible are those against Fiorentina, Sassuolo, Udinese, Genoa. Immediately after the match we have to do well. I hope my internationals do well with their national teams and then return well to Milan.”
On the quality of the game: “The quality of the game and the right determination are the winning combination. When the levels are very similar, the matches must be fought. I liked the mentality of the team, it did not break down in the favourable situations of Inter and on the contrary: we recovered and tried to win. We are doing better than last year: there is still a lot of space to keep this level. We are a growing team, we are a strong team.”