Pioli outlines Milan’s journey back towards 2007 levels and the importance of riding a positive wave

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli believes that the victory against Hellas Verona gives his side ‘more certainty’ as they hope to achieve a ‘positive result’ against Manchester United.

Pioli has only been able to name a 19-man squad for the first leg of the tie, with Theo Hernandez, Ismael Bennacer, Hakan Calhanoglu, Ante Rebic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Mario Mandzukic not available for the game.

Milan have their work cut out against a side that are second in the Premier League and beat the top team Manchester City 2-0 away from home in the derby at the weekend.

Pioli answered journalists’ questions in view of tomorrow’s Europa League clash against United, with his answers relayed by MilanNews and translated below.

What does the Verona victory give you ahead of tomorrow’s match?

“It has to give us more certainty. When we play intensely we are a good team. We are prepared to play a great match tomorrow night as well.” 

Have you found greater security in defence?

“You have to be a team in both phases. If we are more compact and shorter, we can do better in both the defensive and the offensive phases.” 

Did United’s performance against City impress you?

“I was very impressed, United have deservedly won against a fantastic team that haven’t lost in 20/21 games. We studied that game.”

What can you tell us about Dalot? 

“We are very happy with his growth. Future? It’s early, we are focused only on the next matches. Then it’s not up to me to talk about these things.” 

Is it an early final? 

“I don’t think so, there are many strong teams still in the running. It is a prestigious match between two historic clubs with a great past. Now we are working to get back to winning and make our dreams come true.” 

How important will Donnarumma be tomorrow?

“Gigio is decisive for us both in the defensive phase and in the setting. His performance will be very important for us tomorrow.” 

Would a tie be a good result for you?

“Some games just have to be played to the fullest and with great conviction, as well as with great respect for a team that has dropped out of the Champions League. A positive result tomorrow evening would give us an important momentum in view of the return leg.”

In your opinion, how long will it take to see Milan like the one that beat Manchester United in 2007?

“We are working to get back to winning. Maldini said the right things some time ago: it takes a couple of years of regular presence in the Champions League to grow and think about competing at certain levels and winning trophies. There is still a long way to go. that we must face with this conviction and this enthusiasm.”

Did Milan bring out the best of themselves when there are difficulties? 

“We have a choice to make: either let ourselves be overwhelmed by the negative waves or ride the positive ones. And we chose to ride it, then the team will put in a good performance against a difficult opponent.”

Tags AC Milan Manchester United Milan Stefano Pioli
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