Pioli reflects on ‘positive moment’, Leao’s consistency and Europa League mission

By Isak Möller -

After the 3-1 win against Slavia Praha, advancing with a 3-7 aggregate score, Stefano Pioli spoke to the media and shared his thoughts on AC Milan’s performance. He made it clear that the Rossoneri want to win the Europa League. 

Having won the first leg 4-2, almost everyone expected Milan to secure their spot in the Europa League quarter-finals tonight. It ended up being a bit easier than expected, though, as Slavia Praha had a man sent off (again) in the 20th minute.

Speaking to Sky Italia after the game, as cited by MilanNews, Pioli shared his thoughts on the performance. He made sure to praise Rafael Leao, who was the MOTM in our player ratings, and also made it clear that Milan want to win the tournament.

On the game…

“We certainly managed the numerical superiority better than in the first leg, with eleven against eleven it was a more difficult match, but they left us spaces to counter.”

On the positive form…

“It’s a positive moment, our front three has a lot of quality. We have to do well on Sunday in another difficult match against Verona, before recovering energy during the break. We have had two rounds that may have seemed simple, but Rennes and Slavia are not easy to face. There are 8 teams that can win the Europa League and we are one of them.”

Did you talk about the future at the dinner with Furlani and Ibrahimovic?

“No. I really appreciated the dinner, the club gave me a gift for reaching 100 victories with Milan. We talked a lot about the things we have to do in this moment.”

If there were 11 of them left…

“I also have this curiosity, but I preferred this. They move a lot, they raise the full-backs a lot, like Rennes with Borigeaud. We had prepared for it with Leao as the striker and Musah-Theo on the left. In 11v11, it would have been equally difficult. Maybe they don’t have a player or two of the highest technical level, but they are prepared. Roma lost 2-0 here.”

Is this Leao’s standard?

“It has to be this. But it depends on him, let’s be clear about that. We did what we had to do, now it depends on him: he has experience, quality, and power. I hope he is mentally strong enough to have this approach to the match.”

Has the gap with the big teams in European football narrowed?

“I think it has decreased a bit for Italian football, even though foreign teams have economic possibilities that are different compared to ours. The gap has decreased. Inter’s elimination is a surprise, they are among the best European teams. We are not that far away, but it’s not easy to keep a high level if the teams continue to spend and improve abroad.”

Although some of the games have not been decided yet, Milan could be drawn against the likes of Liverpool, Roma and Benfica in the quarter-finals. In short, it will not be an easy tie.

Tags AC Milan Slavia Praha Sytefano Pioli


  1. I didn’t like our 2nd half play, I’m just fearing that our creativity against low block teams are becoming static, we struggle to break defenses down…i hope the team was playing under instruction, if not there is work to be done to resolve this thing that’s creeping into our game. Good win, we take it and look forward to a favorable draw for the next round.

    1. What I didn’t like was that when Milan had the ball near the halfway-line the forwards (ESPECIALLY Pulisic) were making runs all the time and created space for themselves and others… Awesome. That’s how it’s supposed to go… BUT!!! The midfielders & defenders with the ball never had any intentions playing the ball forwards. They just “played it safe” every freaking time. Backwards, sideways, backwards and not even a glimpse of eye contact to see what was happening behind the defensive line.

      If they don’t have the balls to pass forwards at the halfway-line against a 10 men team, how on Earth are they supposed to dare to pass the ball forwards against a team with 11 players on the pitch?

      Watch the first 20mins of the match again and focus on how the home team moved the ball. It was beautiful. It was effective. They had the courage. They had vision and accuracy. If the 2nd best team in Czechia can do it, Milan should be able to too. Our passing game is below mediocre and that’s a fact.

  2. Well done for the win, but Pioli has to leave for this team to grow, first of all, has anyone noticed that Giroud is physically and mentally tired, did Pioli have to leave him on for the whole match, couldn’t he have put Jovic or Okafor on, Pioli is clearly stunting their progress by not using them, and insisting on Giroud who is clearly on his end credits, he was completely lost and off his game, look at the chance he lost.
    Then when you are leading 3 nil, could you not replace Calabria with Terraciano, to give him playing time and give him fitness, instead you put in a Kalulu that was not 100% fit, unless Milan sacks Pioli at the end of the season, this team will continue to play badly , with sporadic victories like yesterday, and we risk him burning the new players.
    Pioli lacks imagination and bravery, his attitude will slowly kill the fitness and momentum Jovic and Okafor have built up recently

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