AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli refused to declare that the Scudetto is the club’s target but praised his side for their resilience in the 1-0 win over Sampdoria.
Milan found it quite difficult to put the game to bed against their opponents from Genoa, taking the lead inside 10 minutes through Rafael Leao but ultimately struggling to put the game to bed due to a combination of poor supply and poor finishing.
However, the Rossoneri did get another crucial win on the board and moved back top of the table because of Inter’s draw against Napoli and the Stadio Diego Maradona last night, though their city rivals do have a game in hand to play against Bologna.
Pioli spoke after the game during an interview with DAZN and reflected on the performance and what it means to jump into top spot, with his comments transcribed by MilanNews are translated below.
On the psychological aspect: “We have to feed on this enthusiasm, our fans give us incredible energy, it’s right to absorb it. You have to give yourself a few breaks, you can’t always go a thousand miles per hour: we could have closed it earlier, we will try to improve, but we have closed a really important and very positive week.”
On the differences with the matches against Sassuolo and Spezia: “We are taking a step. In the first half we were satisfied a little too much. In the second half we created a lot, but often we didn’t make the right play in the final phase. I told the team that matches can also be won 1-0, we have not conceded anything to the opponents.”
On Milan without Ibra and the young players who take responsibility: “Thanks to everyone’s work, it’s part of our path. We started two years ago with a lower level of experience, Zlatan made us grow a lot and I’m sure he will be decisive for the rest of the season, but now everyone can be decisive. Performance always depends on us, then there are many components on the result that can affect it: but performance depends on us.”
On Leao’s substitution: “He was replaced because he was dropping a bit in intensity and I have very good alternatives. Then you would have had another opinion if Rebic had scored. I am very satisfied with Leao, he must continue like this. He can be decisive in all games. For the game we have, I prefer to take away a player in the 60th minute with no energy because he gave everything rather than a player in the 90th who still has energy. The quantity of minutes is not important but the quality.”
On Leao’s goal with an assist from Maignan, did you take a cue from Berlusconi’s statements?
“I had heard it. I think it’s quite simple how we want to attack: if they come to pick us up in our half we have this solution, otherwise we try to move the ball from behind. Leao and Maignan were perfect for the goal.”
On the standings: “There is positive air, we know very well what happens with a different result in the derby, we are football people. We have not kept anything, if not two points more than last year: there is a lot to improve and we are always trying to improve our level.”