Pioli explains what he expects from Napoli and why it is a ‘very important game tactically’

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan’s game against Napoli at San Siro tomorrow night has the prospects of being an intriguing tactical battle between two sides full of confidence.

Throughout the week there has been speculation and various theories regarding how Stefano Pioli will cope without Rafael Leao on the left flank given that he is suspended, with some rumours that a formation change could be on the cards to a 4-3-2-1 or even a three-man defence.

Luciano Spalletti’s side will make the trip north riding the crest of a wave as they have 14 points from their opening six league games following a summer of overhaul, and have also won both Champions League games, so Pioli will have been studying the correct plan.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Pioli was asked about how he will attempt to combat Napoli’s tactical weapons.

“Against Liverpool they knew that they would keep the line very high and they took advantage of it, but they also know how to dribble or go 1 vs 1. Tomorrow we will need a correct and compact defensive phase: it is an aim that can give us many benefits,” he said (via MilanNews).

“Napoli dribble well, to attack them you have to do it at the right moments. If we miss a pressure, they have the ability to hurt you. If you wait for them, they can hurt you all the same. It will be a very important game tactically.”

Regarding how he will cover for Leao’s absence, Pioli also seemed to confirm that Alexis Saelemaekers will be used as an inverted winger on the left.

“Preparing for a match is putting costs and benefits on the table at a strategic level. Then you choose players who are best suited to interpret the type of game you have decided. The team knows what we want to do. I try to be the most lucid and energetic as possible because the team likes such a coach,” he said.

Tags AC Milan Milan Napoli Stefano Pioli
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