Stefano Pioli was keen to pick out the positives from AC Milan’s 2-2 draw against Juventus in preseason, a game that his side twice led.
Milan faced off against their Serie A rivals on American soil and they twice got themselves ahead through set pieces, with the first being a Malick Thiaw header from a free-kick and the second a volley from Olivier Giroud after Thiaw’s knockdown.
However, Juve twice fought back and made it 1-1 through Danilo as he stabbed home after a ricochet inside the penalty area from an initial corner, then Daniele Rugani’s header deflected in off Olivier Giroud.
The last 35 minutes saw both teams make mass changes and it would eventually be a 2-2 draw with Juventus winning a novelty penalty shootout at the end. Pioli spoke to reporters after the game, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.
“It’s not a step backwards compared to the match against Real Madrid. Those who started the match today have only been training for seven days,” he said.
Captain Davide Calabria went off in the 20th minute of the first half with a muscle problem.
“He had fatigue, he says he stopped just in time.”
Pioli also spoke on Christian Pulisic who again had moments where he looked very bright playing on both the left and the right.
“His physical condition is improving, we’ve only been working for two weeks. He can play on the right, left or on anywhere on the frontline, he’s intelligent and has quality,” he said.
“Partnering with Leao? After a dead ball they swapped sides, but we have Leao very strong on the left, Chukwueze very strong on the right, Pulisic who can play very well anywhere.”
On Loftus-Cheek, he added: “He and Pulisic have only been training together for a few days, but they have characteristics that fit together well.
“I’m happy with how they’re doing, they need time to adjust. They are mature players who, however, change opponents, league and team-mates. Clearly there are many things we can do better.”
Then came the inevitable question about Samuel Chukwueze who was officially confirmed as the seventh signing of a busy summer window so far.
“We had spoken to each other a couple of times, we were looking for a player with these characteristics. He is fast, technical, strong in one-on-ones and attacks deep. He seems like a complete winger to me, but until I train him I can’t tell,” he said.
The Milan coach wants to keep his guard up and try to improve the tactical scenarios in the game against Barcelona next week.
“In build-up we try to read the spaces they leave us, to vary in order to dominate the game. These matches are important because they give us the right conditions for the season.
“The next match will be very difficult, each match tells us something, we hope to get to the season opener in the best possible condition.”