Pioli previews Sassuolo game and talks Ibrahimovic: “We were convinced he could recover”

By Isak Möller -

On the eve of the clash between Sassuolo and Milan, which will be very important for the latter, Stefano Pioli spoke to the media at the usual press conference. It’s not an easy situation, that’s for sure. 

The Rossoneri have drawn their last two games, both 2-2, and they will be looking to get back to winning ways tomorrow. Due to several injuries, though, it will be far from easy for Pioli and his players. Down below is his presser in full.

On the different position from last year…

“We know what we are doing, from January to today we have had positive performances. The interesting fact is that we have 15 points more than last year, it means a lot for our growth. It remains an even more balanced league compared to the previous year.”

On Sassuolo…

“They are a team to be faced with great attention. It’s a quality and well-trained team. We will have to be attentive and clear-headed from a tactical point of view. We will have to face them with respect but aware of our qualities even if we have important absences.”

On Ibrahimovic’s injury…

“It was a special day. We were convinced he could recover for tomorrow and could play for a part. I’m very sorry for him because he really wanted to return. These things happen but he will come back stronger than before. We have alternatives ready to play.”

On intervening on the market after Ibra’s injury…

“It’s normal to talk about these situations as the January transfer market is approaching. Ibrahimovic’s injury will not change our strategies.”

Since Zlatan Ibrahimovic got injured, Milan have scored a total of eight foals, which is an average of two per game. However, only one attacker has scored (Samu Castillejo) and the rest has come from others. Pioli touched on this matter.

“If it’s positive? Absolutely yes. It means that we are unpredictable. The fact that our opponents mark many of our forwards is a plus and helps us create other possibilities. We must continue to be dangerous. A coach is happy when many players score.”

On Rebic and Leao…

“The plan is to always propose an offensive game. Rebic hasn’t scored in the last two, due to the skill of the goalkeepers. I’m very satisfied. He’s giving us depth and movements. If he had scored the other night, your judgment would have changed. Leao? He suffered an injury. Being out for so long can take you out of rhythm.”

On the match against Sassuolo and the technical and psychological pitfalls of Ibrahimovic’s injury…

“From a technical point of view, it will require a high-level performance, because Sassuolo are a team to be faced with great clarity. The team will have no psychological repercussions because it’s a team that proposes and creates.”

On Rebic…

“Rebic was replaced on Wednesday because he had a foot problem. He has been doing individual work these days. I hope he is ready for the finish.”

Do Milan need a deputy to Ibrahimovic?

“I believe that if there is the possibility of improving this team we will do it. As the club believe it.”

About Tonali…

“His growth is continuous and constant. He’s different from Bennacer but he’s a complete midfielder. This continuity will serve him a lot. He still needs to grow a lot because he’s young but he will do it with the usual commitment.”

On a new midfielder…

“If there is a chance to strengthen and improve quality, the club will do it. It’s important to fill the penalty box with many players and we are doing it. Many times we have arrived late on certain crosses, we also need to improve the crosses.”

On Leao…

“The last performances have not been up to par. But before the injury, he had shown signs of growth. Now he has to make an extra effort. If you are not at 100%, do more. Then when the best condition returns, he will return to his form of pre-injury.”

On Calhanoglu’s growth as a director…

“Calhanoglu is a leader of this team. He’s a leader on the pitch. He’s an intelligent player. Lately, we have faced teams that have closed the spaces and sometimes, I had to lower him despite wanting to keep him high.

“He knows how to marry perfectly with his teammates. I have great respect for him and with intelligent players, you can play great games. He has the qualities to have a few more goals.”

On Kjaer…

“It’s only been 15 days since his injury. Tomorrow he won’t be there and it’s unlikely he’ will be there for Wednesday’s match, but he’s fine and that’s the most important thing.”

On the goals conceded in recent games…

“In the last few games, we have not suffered any more on set-pieces. We conceded goals after losing the ball. We weren’t exceptional. We left too much space. But we have to work as a team.”

The game is scheduled for 15:00 and will be played at the Mapei Stadium. Three points would do Milan well ahead of the game against Lazio, which will be the last one before the Christmas break.

READ MORE: Milan are not dependant on Ibrahimovic goalscoring-wise but attackers need him

Tags AC Milan Stefano Pioli