AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has reacted to the news that his side have drawn Napoli in the Champions League and also addressed Rafael Leao’s form.
The draw for the quarter-finals of the Champions League took place at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon earlier this afternoon and it saw Milan pitted against a domestic rival in Napoli, with the winner to face either Inter or Benfica in the semi-finals.
However, the team cannot get distracted as they must get their league form back on track after dropping points against Fiorentina and Salernitana either side of the second leg against Spurs, starting tomorrow night against a tough Udinese side.
Pioli spoke to the reporters who gathered at Milanello for his pre-match press conference on the eve of the trip to the Dacia Arena, with his comments relayed by MilanNews and translated below.
What game will it be tomorrow?
“We know our opponents, they are a physical team, play quickly on the attackers. Great determination will be needed.”
What is the reaction to the Champions League draw?
“We were training. Any opponent would have been difficult. We’re in the quarter-finals, they’re all strong. We want to keep going. Napoli are strong, they’re dominating in the league, but the Champions League is the Champions League and Milan are Milan.”
How is Ibra doing?
“He’s fine. When we made the squad list he wasn’t able to play, so he’s calm. Ibra is Ibra, he wants to play in every game and help his team-mates.”
Have you heard from Spalletti?
“I don’t think he’ll write to me (smiles). I have an excellent relationship with him. We’ll meet first in the league. The league is different from the Champions League. Now let’s think about the league since we’re coming from a defeat and a draw.”
Could Ibra start?
“He’s fine, he doesn’t have 90 minutes in his legs yet. We’ll see what choices I make, Rebic or Origi can also play.”
How is Leao doing?
“Leao is training very well, he’s serene and determined in trying to improve his performances. I’m sure Leao is and remains an important point of reference for our offensive phase, also because, even though he doesn’t score, he keeps the opposing defences apprehensive.”
Are Milan underrated? Does it bother you that in Naples they cheered for having drawn Milan?
“I always prefer to celebrate after and not before matches.”
Will anyone rest tomorrow?
“The team is doing well. I always have to field the best team. We have to win tomorrow.”
Who is stronger between Leao and Kvara?
“It’s hard to say, they have different characteristics. They will be good games against Napoli between two strong teams.”
Why doesn’t Leao score like last year?
“We don’t care what they say outside Milanello. I advise Leao to stay close to those who love him, as happens here at Milanello. He’s not depressed, but he’s determined. We expect goals from him, but even when he doesn’t Goal makes important plays for the team.”
Are you thinking of going back to the old formation?
“We’re not playing with an extra defender. Even when we were playing a four-man, the right full-back followed the opponent’s full-back and our right-back was central, making a three-man defence. The important thing is to continue to lead the games. We’ll come back to four when it’s needed to face certain teams. The important thing is to play well.”
How are Tonali and Bennacer?
“Tonali rested against Salernitana and is fine. Bennacer is better and is putting minutes in his legs.”
Do you have to be ambitious in the Champions League?
“Yes, but we have to think about getting through this round first. The Champions League is a target, we want to go all the way. We know we need top-level performances against Napoli, but now we’re only thinking about the next league games.”
How do you explain the difficulties for Origi?
“At first he had some physical problems, then there were some of my choices.”
The Primavera reached the Youth League Finals…
“I congratulated Abate and the team. There are many interesting players we keep an eye on.”
Is Maignan the strongest goalkeeper in Milan’s history?
“I don’t know, but he sure is a great champion in everything he does.”
How important will the break be?
“It will be more important how we get to the pit stop, so tomorrow’s result is very important. The standings are short, we have to push.”
How are the team after Salernitana?
“There was disappointment the next morning, but I like this: I’m happy when the team has the same sensations as me. Then I saw determination and concentration for the next game.”
Will the choices in attack also depend on the physicality of the Udinese defenders?
“We know the characteristics of Udinese defenders who are very physical. We will use our qualities to put them in difficulty.”
Should Leao be served more?
“In the last few games he has attacked spaces well and therefore, given his qualities, he should be served more in those situations.”
Let’s gooo… We can beat Napoli in CL, then Benfica in semis..
We need them to enter the semis so that Italian football can have some more prestige. But we will beat Inter in the semis.
can ibra play in Quarter finals?
All i know is that he is not on the uefa list
I don’t know why I am not afraid of Napoli. Am just glad we avoided Man City.
It’s because theres nothing special about Napoli. Milan will play in the semi final.
When you reach the Quarter Finals then it means all Expectations are Open Milan has first to Secure a Place in the Next Championship all the Seven Others are Already In Milan in Two Games can beat Any Team because We Have a Great Coach and One of the best Seven Defence Players from Theo to Calabria and if Ibrahimovic will be Fit then Milan can put the Best Eleven Maignan Theo Kalalou Thrwa Calabria. Benancer
Forward if Pioli wants to Risk Giroud Ibrahimovic Leao Tonali And one of the ++++ Messiah Ibrahim Diaz Rebic Origi
Remember that with New Regulation there are no away Goal when the Two Teams Draw it is A Win Win so great is to win Abroad One Goal is Enough to keep Dreaming