Pioli reveals three more players picked up problems in Atalanta defeat as he previews Inter clash

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has revealed that Ismael Bennacer should be back with the team too ahead of tomorrow night’s Coppa Italia clash against Inter.

The Rossoneri will face off against their city rivals looking to make the final four of the competition for the fourth season in a row. The last time they didn’t make the semi-finals was back in 2017-18 when the team were beaten in the quarters by Juventus.

Pioli will be without five key players for the game, as Gianluigi Donnarumma will be suspended, while Matteo Gabbia, Ismael Bennacer, Hakan Calhanoglu (COVID-19) and Pierre Kalulu will all miss the game. However, Alessio Romagnoli and Alexis Saelemaekers were both absent against Atalanta through suspension and will be back.

Pioli was interviewed by Milan TV on the eve of the game, with his quotes transcribed by MilanNews and translated below.

“It is a separate competition and in quotation marks it is also easier to deal with mentally. It’s a unique match, whether it’s 90 minutes or 120 it’s another competition and a unique match,” he said.

“It is a competition we definitely care about, but then the season will be another story. The next derby in a month, with other important matches in between, so this is just a Coppa Italia match, an important quarter-final that we try to face in the best possible way.

“It is clear that there are opponents to face, dangerous opponents, but the will will certainly be to return to the field with a positive performance. It is a competition we definitely care about, we will do everything to get to the end, because in the end all the great teams of the league find themselves playing the quarter-finals.

“Of course we weren’t particularly lucky in the draw, because ours is the strongest quadrant, but if you want to win the Italian Cup you have to face them all. We definitely care and will do our best.

“As for the injured Bennacer is better but will be available for next Saturday’s match against Bologna. Hakan is not yet available and we had a couple of problems with Mandzukic, Kalulu and Tonali in Saturday’s game. Only tomorrow morning will we know if they will be available for tomorrow night’s match.

“The 43 points of the first half of the season remain as well as the 41 points of the second round of the last season which is still part of our path. It remains a solid and competitive team but that knows it has to compete with many other very strong and very valid teams.

“We had proof of this last Saturday, if you can’t maintain certain levels then you risk succumbing to these opponents. Our goal now is to make an even greater effort to try to maintain the same result in the second round.”

Did you sleep after the Atalanta match? “I didn’t sleep because I watched the game and because I believe that communication with the team the next day is very important in my work.

“I sleep shortly after the games, both after the ones I won and after the ones I lost because I think knowing how to say the right things to the team is the most important thing. We have little time and play a lot, so communication must be immediate. I made my assessments and the day after I reported them to the team.”

On pressures: “I believe that in our profession, having pressure is a privilege. It means having reached a certain level and we want to stay there, so pressures are welcome. We know the external ones but the internal ones are much more important, the ones we create ourselves.

“We want to be ambitious and win all games. When we fail, we work even harder to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Pressure is a privilege and we have to live with it. Indeed, we want these pressures because we are in a great club and it is right that there are expectations.”

On Tomori: “He is a very intelligent and curious player. He comes from a different football, my English is good but not great. He is attentive, then we have many of his companions who speak the language well. He has nice features, nice qualities, it’s clear he’s only done two sessions. It will take some time to integrate him into our mechanisms in the best possible way.”

Tags AC Milan Stefano Pioli
Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.