Pioli previews Cagliari clash and discusses top-four push: “We could close an exceptional week”

By Isak Möller -

On the eve of the clash between Milan and Cagliari, Stefano Pioli spoke to the media at the usual press conference at Milanello. It’s an important game for the Rossoneri, who most likely can secure their spot in the Champions League. 

Provided that Atalanta get at least a point from their game against Genoa (currently), Milan will be able to secure a top-four finish with a win tomorrow. They might not even need that, as Juventus will take on Inter this evening.

Pioli, as said, spoke to the media this afternoon (via MilanNews) and discussed the situation that his team finds itself in. After two great games, it all comes down to the encounter tomorrow and maximum concentration will be needed.

Congratulations to the women’s team…

“I take this opportunity to congratulate Ganz’s players for the goal achieved. Really good.”

Will the fans’ sound (from speaker) during the warm-up help you feel closer to the fans?

“It’s better than nothing. We play in our home and this can also help us. We know how important the game is and how difficult the opponent will be to face.”

How was the week of Milan and Pioli?

“It was a week of great motivation. Tomorrow’s match could close an exceptional week from the point of view of results and performances. We had a good balance and we must bring these characteristics into play in tomorrow night’s match as well.”

Do you feel a responsibility in qualifying for the Champions League?

“The home of Milan is Europe and the history of the club testifies to it. The fact that Milan have been missing for a long time raises expectations. We are a top club and we know we have prepared for this match well. The matches are not easy. We are prepared to fight against a physical and strong opponent. We have worked hard to take care of the details.”

How much satisfaction is there in having debunked the cliché that Pioli does less well in the second season?

“All our satisfaction and expectations have not yet been achieved. Let’s focus on our goals and then we will have time to sum up. For now, the balance is still partial. It could be tomorrow or next Sunday but now we will need great concentration and determination.”

One of the most difficult moments was the double defeat against Sassuolo and Lazio. What happened after that moment?

“The performances were never lacking and the awareness of not playing good football allowed us not to break down. We never stopped believing in our quality even after the double. When you have a solid base it’s easier to restart ”

Ibra’s condition is positive news. Will he miss the Euros?

“I agree that the news about Ibra was positive. It should be a conservative therapy that will allow Ibrahimovic to return to 100%. After the visit, I saw him more relaxed but I don’t know his situation with regards to the Euros.”

How was this week?

“Everyone worked hard and in the best possible way to keep the right concentration. We all rowed in the same direction. The week ends tomorrow night and we will have to put in a quality and lucid performance. Never before have we been thinking in this direction.”

Is there any regret or satisfaction for the goal almost achieved?

“There is great concentration for the next commitment. Satisfaction will come when we reach our goal.”

What do you fear about Cagliari?

“Cagliari will field a careful performance. They have quality players, the motivations are on the same level for both teams. We will have to try to play better than our opponents by conceding less and attacking more than them.”

Will the emotions or your words guide the team in the final?

“My goal is to keep my determination high. I have had individual and collective talks. Tomorrow I will speak again but I have a responsible and attentive group. They know that we are approaching a topical moment in the season.”

How important is the group, as demonstrated by the changes in the match against Torino?

“Now everyone is raising the level because we know that these games will decide our future. The inputs of Leao, Krunic and Meite were fundamental in closing the game. Tomorrow the best formation will start at this moment but all the players will be very important in the game. I have a very reliable group.”

How much has Dalot grown?

“Diogo is fantastic and exceptionally professional. It is easy to give credit for our results to the players who play more but big thanks also to the players who have played less. Diogo has grown a lot in both phases and is an important player.”

Do you interpret Leao’s assist for Rebic as a gesture of selflessness and maturity?

“I spoke to Leao and complimented him. Some time ago he would have interpreted the action differently. It is a gesture of maturity and spirit that is helping the team to grow a lot. He was very good.”

Movements of the 4 attacking players, basis for the future?

“Yes, especially in Italy because the opposing defences are good at preparing matches. You have to know how to read spaces and be unpredictable.”

Will Ibrahimovic be with you in the locker room tomorrow? Do you appreciate this gesture?

“I really appreciate and he will be with us. I’m sorry he won’t be on the field with us but his closeness will be very useful for everyone.”

The game is scheduled for 20:45 CEST and it will take place at San Siro, where Milan haven’t been spectacular this season. Hopefully, they will do well tomorrow as that’s all that matters.

READ MORE: Milan have no doubts about redeeming €63m duo in the summer

Tags AC Milan Cagliari Stefano Pioli