After defeating Juventus 4-2 in a thrilling showdown at the San Siro, AC Milan are preparing for the upcoming Serie A matchup against Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo. Rossoneri coach Stefano Pioli was present at Milanello on the eve of the match for his regular press conference to speak about the important clash.
“More goals after the lockdown? It was the number that was our biggest problem. There was no lack of opportunities but the ability to concretize them. We have been more precise, better in choices and with more quality in the conclusions,” Pioli told Milannews.it.
The former Inter Milan and Fiorentina coach went on to speak about the positive moment of Franck Kessie and Ismael Bennacer in the last couple of matches, with the midfield duo guaranteeing much more stability in contrast to the pre-lockdown period. Moreover, he also elaborated on Rafael Leao’s current positive moment.
“The midfield is a very important department and the performances of Kessie and Bennacer are of excellent level. They are giving us excellent performances,” Pioli noted.
“Leao? The talent is certainly there. But it must be cultivated and trained. I am very happy with what he is doing. He is making an important contribution to the team. I keep saying that the number of minutes is not important, rather the quality displayed during these minutes.
“If he continues this way, he will bring many satisfactions. The time will soon come for him to play from the beginning.”
Pioli also spoke about the somewhat negative beginning of his Milan tenure, commented on the matchup against Napoli and also addressed the comparisons of his Serie A standings to that of last year under Gennaro Gattuso’s management.
“It is useless to look back, we have not had the continuity. It takes time to build something important, from a technical, tactical and character point of view. We have to finish the championship well, there are still many points and many games to be played,” he said.
“Napoli are a great team with a great coach. We have to perform well, we have the qualities. We have to play with awareness, we must take advantage of this moment and give our best.
“Comparisons with last year? It is difficult to make comparisons. Rino had started the season from the beginning. He did an excellent job as he is doing at Napoli. He has the ability to make his team play well and to give the right mentality. The accounts will be made at the end of the season and there is still much to do.”
Finally, the Rossoneri coach spoke about the duel with Roma for a Europa League spot, his own future as well as the future of the club and the fine performances of January arrival Alexis Saelemaekers.
“We are still seventh in the standings and we would not be happy to end up like this. We must try to reach those ahead of us. We must improve our ranking,” Pioli added.
“A rewarding moment? Only the final evaluations at the end of the championship will count. I know that we have worked hard and that I have a group of players who want to do well. This must accompany us until the end, then we will make concrete evaluations of what we have done.
“The future? I don’t know if the club has already decided, but it is not my concern. My only concern is that of my players doing well. At Milanello we are fine and we have worked hard since October, not only during the lockdown. Those who have to make the decisions will make them.
“Saelemaekers? Everyone deserves confirmation. Considering how we are playing, I have various choices. But I will choose from game to game based on my requests and the characteristics of the players. The important thing is that the players are fine and they are ready,” the coach concluded.