AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has waxed lyrical about Bayern Munich, a team he wants to emulate as the Rossoneri’s head coach.
Milan have been fantastic since the resumption of Serie A last season, winning nine of their 12 league games to end 2019-20 and beginning the new campaign with a 2-0 win over Bologna.
Key to the recent success has been Pioli’s style of play; one built around pressing high up the pitch to win the ball back, and counter-attacking with devastating efficiency based on getting numbers forward to create overloads.
Pioli gave an interview to The Athletic in a long feature which documents Milan’s meticulous way of going about getting back among Europe’s elite, and he admitted he draws inspiration from Bayern Munich.
“I started following Bayern closely from January onwards,” Pioli says.
“I told my assistants that they’re the team playing the best football in Europe right now. It’s a very intense and aggressive style. All teams at a certain level these days try to press their opponents high and offer the fans attacking football with quick, gifted players. That’s the direction we’re heading in.”
On the rise since the COVID break, he added: ”It’s definitely down to the work we put in. The players believed in themselves and the scenarios we put to them.
“I also needed to get to know them and what our identity and philosophy was going to be. By working at it day-in, day-out we were able to reap what we sowed and managed to get some great results.”
For a while it seemed as though the former Lazio and Fiorentina boss would be let go over the summer, with all major sources reporting that Ralf Rangnick was set to take charge and take the club in a new direction, but in the end Pioli was given a new deal as a reward for his fantastic work.
“The club was always fair with me. Ivan came to the training ground more often than in the past and always showed his regard for me,” he said.
“The January window strengthened us with Ibra, Simon Kjaer and Alexis Saelemaekers. In terms of leadership and character they gave us real presence on the pitch. All these factors helped the team grow in confidence and conviction. The talent was already there and we were able to draw it out at the right time.”