Pioli previews ‘great’ Juve clash, provides injury updates and expresses faith in Mirante

By Isak Möller -

On the eve of the clash between AC Milan and Juventus, Stefano Pioli spoke to the media at the usual pre-match press conference. The manager is confident but believes that it will be a tough game for the Rossoneri. 

Milan managed to beat Genoa 1-0 before the break and will be looking to extend their winning run, currently on four consecutive wins in the league. However, it will not be a walk in the park against Juventus.

Speaking to the media, as cited by MilanNews, Pioli shared his thoughts on the clash and also the absences Milan will have to deal with. The likes of Mike Maignan, Marco Sportiello, Theo Hernandez and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are all out.

Yesterday’s birthday was a nice moment to get together…

“Yes, the break put the great emotion we experienced in Genoa behind us. We all met on Thursday, yesterday was a beautiful day. The boys gave me nice surprises, we were good with the managers and the staff, all together.

“I like it when we get excited about sharing something, this too must be brought to the pitch. It’s how you live and how you interpret the moment. We get our energy from our fans,  tomorrow it will be a great San Siro. These are characteristics that make us more compact and possibly even stronger.”

Tomorrow’s exciting match, with teams aiming to win the Scudetto?

“Absolutely yes, Milan-Juve is a great fixture anyway. They are third. The fight for the Scudetto for the moment is aimed at four teams. For us, it is important to start with the good things we are doing and improve what can be improved. The opponents are a team built to win.”

The changes and the injured…

“We have put behind what happened until yesterday, we don’t think about what will happen beyond that: maximum concentration for tomorrow. I will make my assessments. We have recovered Krunic and Kalulu, unfortunately it hasn’t been a very lucky period because we have lost Chukwueze and Sportiello.

“We won’t have Loftus back because although he has recovered from the muscle injury he had, he’s not yet 100% to be with us, but I hope to be able to have him back in the next games.”

How much trust is there in Mirante?

“The utmost trust for Antonio. He is an expert, a reliable goalkeeper, fully involved in what we are doing, and is respected by his teammates for his technical and moral qualities. There is no need to say much to a player so experienced and ready to make his mark game tomorrow.”

The Scudetto comment from Allegri

“I don’t think Allegri resented my predictions. It’s clear that preparing for just one match per week is an advantage. It’s not mathematical that you can win, but it’s an advantage.”

What weight does this match have? Do you expect goals from Giroud and Leao?

“It would be important for our progress and the continuity of our performances, it’s important for our confidence. Giroud and Leao are very strong, but if we win with goals from other players, that’s fine too.”

Does Mirante change the way you play?

“No, Antonio knows how to read situations and spaces. We must be good at giving him the right solutions and understanding what attitude Juventus will have. Antonio is ready to build from the back and read the situation.”

Who can play on the right after Chukwueze’s injury?

“The best alternative is certainly Romero who is doing very well. I will be very happy if he finds space in these matches due to the way he is training, the quality and intensity he puts into his work.

“I’m very calm if Pulisic has to rest, because Romero is definitely ready. Musah could also play there, with other characteristics. Okafor a little less: it’s true that he plays as a winger, but he prefers to play on the left.”

What do you think about the betting case?

“We were surprised and shocked by this situation. I only know what you write, there are no official communications yet. Our thoughts go to Sandro who was one of our players until recently. I won’t judge him for what he may have done.

“I would like to judge him for how he will be able to overcome this moment, for the desire he will have in wanting to transform this negative situation into something positive for him and perhaps which can become an example. I will always be by his side and I will try to help him, other things I don’t feel like telling you at the moment.”

Juve’s strength on set pieces…

“It’s a situation that we considered a lot in preparing for the match. If we lose a little bit, it means that you have to be even more careful and organised. We’ll try to be very careful not to get caught out.”

Is the fact that Leao does not defend a historical falsehood?

“I have always thought that Rafa is a player who is happy to have a coach like me and now I think so even more.”

On the injuries during the break…

“Bad luck exists, we’ve only had 4 muscle injuries since the beginning of the year and continuing like this, the average would be exceptional. In the breaks you work with the hope of giving more continuity but in this case, it didn’t go the right way.”

Do you expect Juve to be aggressive or wait-and-see?

“Our players must be good at understanding situations. It’s not a given that Juve won’t carry out an aggressive defensive phase, it’s a different Juve. We have the friendly match in Los Angeles as a small reference, there they didn’t wait at all. We are prepared for both situations. We will have to manage the ball well, they are strong physically and in counterattacks. A match to be played with technical cleanliness and tactical intelligence.”

Chiesa blossomed with you…

“The person who launched him was Paulo Sousa, I then coached him for almost two years. He has an incredible ability and an important finishing: if he were to play, it would change the dynamics of Juve’s game. We have prepared defensive situations with or without Chiesa. But matches cannot be lost or won with a single player.”

Adli sang a Milan chant…

“I like it when the players identify so much. He is an artist even off the field. He plays the piano well, and he sings. Sometimes he has delighted us in the time we have spent together, but now he owes us delight on the field as well.”

What do you like most and least about Adli?

“He has great will and intelligence, he knows how to feel good on the pitch. He must understand what position he plays in, he must take fewer risks. He gives us important vertical positions, he must continue to do what he is doing in training and in matches, knowing that the position he occupies on the pitch is very important for both phases of the game.”

The game is scheduled for 20:45 CEST and it’s sold out as well. There should be a great atmosphere at San Siro and Milan will certainly have the support of their fans, who have been amazing this season.

Tags AC Milan Juventus Stefano Pioli
Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.