AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli was proud of the way that his team kept their nerve and recorded a win against a resolute Venezia side.
Milan didn’t have it all their own way against the newly promoted side as it took them 68 minutes and some impact substitutions to prise open the Venezia defence, with panic starting to manifest that the Rossoneri might be about to drop points.
The first goal came when Ismael Bennacer lofted a ball over to substitute Theo Hernandez who laid the ball on a plate for Brahim Diaz with an excellent volleyed cross, while Theo himself killed the game with a late second thanks to a sweet left-footed strike.
Pioli was interviewed by Sky Italia at the end of the match against Venezia, with his comments transcribed by MilanNews and translated below.
On the changes: “Covid was not needed, but it would have been nonsense to bring 23 players for only three changes. I am fortunate to have very strong and willing players. We had a very busy week in terms of head and legs. I liked the way the team played also in the first half.”
On the squad: “I didn’t need tonight’s performance to understand I have an important squad. It’s a pity not to have everyone. Soon we will all be there and we will be even stronger. Venezia closed the spaces well, it was a game to play with the right intensity.”
On Brahim Diaz: “He is a guy who has always believed in his qualities and who needed to settle into a different league. He is a quality guy. Last year we played with a midfielder, he is a pure quality attacking midfielder. He is back with great pleasure to work at Milan with his team-mates, I am happy that he is taking away some satisfactions.”
On the defensive phase: “If they work well up front then it’s easier for the defenders to win duels. The work of attack and midfielders is very important: Rebic, Leao, Diaz who never lose a battle. If we continue with this work then we will be able to take away some satisfactions .”
On Leao: “Believe me that the best thing was to find the players in the summer significantly improved and convinced, Rafa is one of them. The work done last year has paid off. We are talking about 20-year-olds, it is normal that in such a difficult league there were difficulties. It was nice to find Leao, Diaz and Tonali so improved and stronger. Leao is a player who can make us win any game, we expect a lot from him. Anyone can jump, it’s a great advantage for our offensive phase.”
On Tonali: “I always talk a lot with my players, the relationship is created with everyday life. We are talking above all about football, Sandro has always worked well and a lot. Now he is finally showing off his fantastic means, he is a complete midfielder. He must know that this is a starting point and not a point of arrival, there will still be many small stages to overcome.”
On if other teams have a stronger squad: “I don’t know, it’s always difficult to compare the values of the squads. There are some teams more experienced than us, we don’t have players in the squad who have won a lot. The club provided me with a very strong and complete squad. We are profound, now we play in Spezia, then Atletico and then Atalanta. The squad must be like this, I have many starters. I like to hear that my players want to win, we are Milan and we have to try to win. Then if there are stronger teams we will see him on the pitch.”
On whether he will calm Theo Hernandez down for revealing his Scudetto ambitions: “Absolutely not, this enthusiasm and empathy that we have created with our fans we have to ride. We must continue to show that we are a strong team that can play it.
“Everyone wants to win, the difference is made by those who prepare themselves best to win. If my players think they can win the Scudetto then let them make an enormous effort, that’s the only way to win.”