Pioli discusses adaptation of new signings, squad rotation and idea of changing formation

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has shed some light on the condition of some new additions, while he also addressed the idea of rotating players and changing formations.

Milan have started the season well in the league having won three and drawn two of their opening five games, with the most recent result of course being the thrilling 3-2 derby win over Inter that came last Saturday.

However, the campaign so far has been a contrast in some ways from the Scudetto winning season in 2021-22, as Milan have actually failed to win any of their three away games (Atalanta, Sassuolo and RB Salzburg in the Champions League), while winning three of three at home.

Milan will look to put things right against a Sampdoria side that are once again searching for an identity under Marco Giampaolo, with just two points to show from their opening five games, though those came from draws with Lazio and Juventus.

Pioli spoke to reporters who gathered at Milanello for his pre-match press conference, with MilanNews relaying his comments.

In Genoa, games have never been easy. Sampdoria arrive after two home draws against Juve and Lazio..

“We will find a solid opponent. They come from two draws against important teams and also from a defeat and we know they will want a revenge.”

Do your opponents face you differently?

“It is still too early to compare home and away matches. For me it always depends on our quality. In Bergamo we played a great match, while with Sassuolo and Salzburg we could have done better.”

Will Origi be the starter tomorrow?

“It may be his moment. He played, he put minutes in his legs. He needs to play.”

Can Dest also play on the left?

“We followed him last season as well. I found him more attentive on defence than I thought. In Salzburg he was very attentive. He has to do more with the ball, with the quality he can do so much going forward. He also likes to play on the left, but we also have other solutions. For the new players it is important to get to know his teammates better. Dest is a ready player.”

How is the inclusion of De Ketelaere going? How is Brahim Diaz?

“There is also Adli, we have various solutions. Charles is doing everything I am asking of him, he is inserting himself more and more, better and better, I am happy with his performance. Then he must have the time to get to know, but I see a calm player. Brahim has certain characteristics to give us numerical superiority. It is inevitable that you always ask me about who does not play, but I always choose based on the game.”

Is rotations essential?

“I don’t like the term rotation. For all my players are strong, everyone gives their best. I always play the best line-up. I have great confidence in my players. It’s not that if I rotate, I make them as a bias… I field players to win games.”

Why did Diaz get lost after Udinese? Is he paying the price of strong competition?

“If you play for Milan you have to accept the competition. If we want to win something we cannot expect to have only 11 starters. If Diaz is suffering from the competition, but I don’t think so, that’s not good. There is great competition but also great compactness. It’s always like this. Every coach starts with a line-up, but then things change during the year. You have to work and think about convincing the coach to let him play. ”

How’s Rebic doing? 

“I don’t like certain allegations. He has back pain, unfortunately the pain has not gone away yet and therefore he cannot train in a group.”

Will Adli have more opportunities?

“It will be up to him to demonstrate. I expect a lot from him too.”

Several times Milan went behind in games…

“As an approach we have only made a mistake with Udinese, but it is clear that it is a fact that we want to reverse. Then, however, the great awareness of the team is confirmed which, despite the disadvantage, continues to believe in it to change the game.”

Could there be a change of formation with a three-man midfield?

“Not at this moment. I’ve never tried Adli as a mezzala.”

How is Pobega seeing?

“I liked how he entered Salzburg. He is growing, we are betting a lot on him.”

Will Saelemakers still be starting tomorrow?

“You know I’m not saying the line-up. In Salzburg he played well, he didn’t force plays when he wasn’t supposed to. The Salzburg performance wasn’t excellent, but decent. Tomorrow we have to do better.”

What do you expect from De Ketelaere?

“We have to look for him a little more, he can also receive the ball with his back to the goal because physically he can handle tackles. He has to learn to go deeper.”

Does De Ketelaere need to play more?

“I don’t field the players to give him minutes. If he plays tomorrow it’s because I think he can give us a hand. I have to think about the whole team.”

Why are you letting in more goals?

“We have conceded a few goals too many. The whole team needs to improve, not just the defence. On Tuesday we had to do better on the goal. We need to improve the defensive phase.”

Can Pobega be used as an attacking midfielder?

“Everything is possible. You can look for new paths or new solutions. It is difficult for everything that we achieved last year to work again this year. We conceded a few more goals, but sometimes it is the quality of the opponents that it can make a difference. As for Leao: it is not that every time he was decisive there was a defensive error, but because of his quality. This year we have a more attacking midfielder.”

It is your third year at the helm of Milan. What is the biggest difference between this year and the others?

“We know each other well and therefore we can devote more to those details that can make a difference. We did the bulk.”

On dead balls you are struggling…

“We have to do better. The team knows that too. We are working on it, I hope to see improvements soon. This is one of those details we are working on more. We need to be more concrete on these situations.”

What changes between De Ketelaere and Diaz in the role of attacking midfielder?

“The position is the same and they know what they have to do. They have different characteristics, but the position they have to fill is the same.”

With all these games, do the players also have to manage?

“We are not able to manage the matches. We have to play with intensity all the matches. We have to give everything, we cannot afford to finish the matches with some energy left.”

How is the introduction of the new signings going?

“They are working and growing. They know their teammates better. They are very available guys. They arrived a few days ago. I don’t know if anyone will be ready for tomorrow, but the important thing is that they are strong players. Some of them will then go to the national team, I would be I was happier to have them here with us.”

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