On the eve of the clash between AC Milan and Juventus at Allianz Stadium, Stefano Pioli spoke to the media at the usual press conference. The manager made it clear that he wants to seal the UCL spot tomorrow.
Milan are currently in fourth with 64 points as a result of Juventus’ 10-point deduction, which was confirmed on Monday evening. One win is all that the Rossoneri need from the final two games to secure a top-four finish.
Speaking to the media at the press conference, as cited by MilanNews, Pioli shared his thoughts on what is a crucial game for Milan. He also admitted that the Rossoneri have had their ‘ups and downs’ this season, but that the path overall is positive.
Were these days of rest useful for regaining energy? What do Juventus expect?
“I hope so, we haven’t had a full week for a long time. It certainly did us good. It’s Juve-Milan, we’ll find a determined and focused Juventus, it’s the team together with Napoli that has claimed the most points in home games. It’s the end of the season and we have to do everything to reach fourth place or even better.”
Even two years ago, a clash against Juve was decisive for qualifiying for the Champions League…
“It will be the continuation of a path that has seen very positive results and also some disappointments. We never forget where we started from. By winning tomorrow we will certainly be in the Champions League. It would be the continuation of a path that has seen ups and downs in the league this year.”
On the future…
“It’s not the time to talk about it, it’s too important to finish the season well. There will be time to talk about the future, the transfer market and renewals. This is not the time.”
Which midfielder do you prefer in the trio?
“Let’s talk about tomorrow’s match, there’s time for the transfer market. Tomorrow we’ll play with Brahim, he’s strong and he’s giving us good solutions. It’s never an individual that makes the difference but teamwork does. Tomorrow we have to put in a high-level performance.”
What do you expect from Juve?
“It’s not our concern, we know how to approach the match. We know that they’ll play the best game possible, we want to try to close the Champions League path before the final game of the season: it’s true that in recent years we’ve been good on the last day but it would be better to avoid it.”
If Atalanta and Roma don’t win… Do you do the calculations or do you want a performance without calculations?
“We can’t know how today’s games will go, we know that we have to put in a great performance against a top-level opponent. We have to put in a high performance on a mental and technical level, today’s results won’t change our approach.”
On the penalty inflicted on Juventus…
“Clearly we all agree that the timing is not what one would hope for in a regular season. Removing and then giving back doesn’t benefit anyone, we hope it will be a definitive thing.”
Maldini said that in the event of qualifying for the Champions League it would be an 8/10 season. What grade would you give?
“I don’t do any votes until the season ends. We can still finish second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth. It’s pointless at this moment to make certain types of assessments.”
How much is the thought of finishing third instead of fourth in your head?
“Our pride and our ambition is to win tomorrow and close early, without waiting for the last game and the last week, to try to achieve an important goal for the club, for us and for the fans. You [journalists] are in a hurry incredible, you only need to wait 8 days to then understand what the situation will be.”
Is there the possibility of saying goodbye to Ibra at San Siro as a player next week? Have you spoken with the medical staff about him?
“No I haven’t spoken to the staff about him, we’ve been very busy with the last few games. I haven’t discussed his will and ambition for the future either. He’s very determined to try to recover from the injury and next week will be decisive for understanding whether he’ll be able to able to participate in the match against Verona.”
On Leao and Maldini’s words to make him improve:
“Rafa’s growth is continuous and constant. Above all, I believe in his attitude. He has changed his approach, he can only continue this growth. He has everything to become one of the best in the world. But to become a champion you must have an obsession, an obsession that makes you think about how to improve every day. Rafa has it in his head, he has this obsession. He just needs to improve and continue like this.”
Who are you rooting for on June 10th [UCL final]?
“May the best team win.”
Are the directors thinking about the mercato?
“Definitely, absolutely yes. They are very busy on this front.”
How do you judge Tomori’s season?
“Fik is very strong, very aggressive. His aggressiveness has often given us fantastic results, in others he has to be more thoughtful. He is growing, he came from a strong team in which he didn’t play and he was immediately very ready.”
As an Emilian and as a coach, what do you say to the Curva fans who are helping out in Emilia?
“I’m sorry the fans won’t be there tomorrow, they deserved to be there, but they proved once again that they are unique and special, by doing a noble deed that makes us proud to have them as our fans.”
Kick-off is scheduled for 20:45 CEST and as said, Milan need just three points from their final two games to secure a top-four finish. If the latter is secured, then the season can be considered positive overall.