AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli branded Rafael Leao as ‘exceptional’ after he was the match-winner during the 1-0 victory against Sampdoria today.
The only goal of the game came inside the first ten minutes as a long ball from Mike Maignan found Leao, who beat his man on the dribble before surging into the box and firing past Falcone in the Samp goal.
It could have been a wider margin of victory for the Rossoneri in truth as they squadered several chances to double the advantage on the break, but a very solid defensive performance ensured another clean sheet and top spot.
Pioli spoke after the game during an interview with Sky Italita to reflect on the performance from his side and what has been a fantastic last week, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.
On the past week: “It was the perfect week. Difficult games were waiting for us, both for motivation and for stimuli. Having hit all three is important but there are still many games left. Now we need to recover some energy and we face every commitment, a match at a time.”
On the form of the team: “Milan have a game identity and this is the most beautiful and guaranteeing thing. Today we have two points more than last year, it will be difficult but we will try to face each match as the most difficult exam.”
If he would be dreaming as a fan: “If I was a fan I would have been in the stands with the other fans, I try to work to make the dreams I have at night come true.”
On the tactical key of the match: “We were good at understanding Sampdoria’s ideas. We had prepared the match against a team that would play 4-3-1-2 but only an hour before the game we realised that they had changed formation. Even against closed opponents, you can find opportunities and what we have spent in recent years has made us make clear choices.”
On whtether the exit from the Champions League can be an advantage: “The exit from the Champions League was a disappointment because the match at the Wanda Metropolitano gave us a chance with Liverpool. We didn’t succeed and we are sorry.
“We also have the Coppa Italia which will give us other weeks with commitments, there will be room for all the players who showed their application and will. Last year it may have been an advantage for Inter but it was not only that, they won the championship also because they played better and were more continuous. We will try to exploit ours full weeks of work ”
On Leao: “Leao is an exceptional player, with great characteristics but he must not be satisfied. He must not be satisfied with scoring the goal, if he wants to play 90 minutes he must run to the end like all his teammates.
“I do not know if we are the strongest team in the league but certainly we are second to none in terms of spirit. Rafa has grown a lot, as has Tonali. They must not be satisfied because they are young and because they know that without sacrifice, success does not come.”