AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has challenged his side to maintain their high levels during tomorrow’s game against Spezia in Liguria.
The Rossoneri will make the journey to La Spezia looking to avenge last season’s 2-0 defeat in the second half of last season, one that ultimately proved to be very damaging with regards to Milan’s Scudetto ambitions.
Things have changed since then as Thiago Motta is their new manager as Vincenzo Italiano decided to go to Fiorentina, but Milan arrive having enjoyed the exact same start as last season with four wins and a draw in their opening five league games.
Pioli spoke to the media who gathered in the Milanello press room on the eve of Milan’s game against Spezia, answering a variety of questions with his comments relayed by MilanNews.
Milan started with three wins at San Siro. How important is the presence of the fans?
“Together with the fans we have more energy and enthusiasm. We started well at home, but we are only at the beginning. Tomorrow we will play away against a team to be respected a lot.”
Did you warn the team thinking about last year’s game in La Spezia?
“We didn’t go to Turin thinking about last year’s 3-0 victory. Tomorrow we will have to play with our characteristics.”
How’s Diaz doing? Could he rest?
“He’s fine. Tomorrow is an important match, playing the best team as always. It is important who starts the game, but perhaps even more important who enters later.”
What kind of match will it be tomorrow?
“The quality of the players makes the difference. Luckily we have many quality players. Tomorrow we will have to play the game and look for quality plays to solve it.”
How’s Giroud doing?
“He will be called up. I saw him well, he will be part of the match, we’ll see if from the start or the match in progress.”
How did you see Pellegri?
“Well. He has characteristics that may be important to us.”
Are you worried about injuries?
“Since the start of the season we have had only two muscle injuries, namely Kessie and Krunic. The others were fatigue injuries. Calabria will be available tomorrow. The others were traumas that led to inflammation. Messias arrived with some problems, but now he is overcoming them. Sorry not to have everyone available, but I have a strong squad.”
Is the team mature enough?
“Yes, in the interviews they say they can win every game. We are young, but we have grown a lot in terms of maturity. We have to think about one game at a time. In Italy there is great competitiveness, so we must always be 100%.”
Did you expect a Napoli this strong?
“I expected this Napoli, they changed little and added Anguissa who is strong. They are among the best teams in the league, with a deep squad. I expected Napoli to be a contender for the Scudetto. The competition for the top four places will be high. I’m happy with my team, the squad is of high quality and I have many solutions.”
Are you looking for a third goalkeeper after Plizzari’s injury?
“No, we’re fine like this. We’ll go on like this.”
What difficulties will there be tomorrow?
“I don’t know the measures, but on the pitch you realise that the pitch in La Spezia is a bit smaller. It will be a very intense match, we will have to occupy the spaces well. We will have to be lucid and fast, they will try to take away the time of the play.”
What’s wrong with Florenzi?
“He won’t be there because of a blunt trauma to his knee. He couldn’t train this morning, I hope he can be there on Tuesday. He’s not at 100% yet, but he’s an intelligent player, I count on him a lot. I hope he can get to 100% form soon.”
Could it be Leao’s season?
“The last piece will be to become more concrete in terms of assists and goals. He has improved a lot, he is more and more in the game, he is missing this piece, which is very important.”
Will you be rotating tomorrow?
“All those who played on Wednesday are called. When everyone is well, mine are only technical choices. Tomorrow I will play the best line-up.”
In attack you have many players with different characteristics…
“It is stimulating for me to have so much choice. I have to make the most of my players and their qualities. Also for them it is motivating and beautiful because it is never monotonous, we always like to try different things.”
How important are the five substitutions?
“They are very important, I have been saying this for a long time. Especially now that we play every 3 days. It is never the quantity of minutes in which one plays, but the quality with which one plays. I would put the actual time and time-out in, and another rule to have a more offensive game is that after you cross half the pitch you can’t go back.”
In your career you have had two French goalkeepers like Lafonte and Maignan…
“Lafonte had chosen Fiorentina before I arrived. Maignan we have followed him for a long time, since we met him last year with Lille. I am happy to coach him, he is a very dedicated player. He is doing well, it is a pleasure. I work with him. Last year I liked him a lot because he talked a lot and he is confirming it here too.”
You’ve only received 4 yellow cards so far…
“We are not a team that waits, so it means that we do not miss the pressure times. I also like very much that we do not take cards for protests, we must only think about playing and not waste energy in protests.”
What should Milan do tomorrow?
“Spezia played well against Juventus, they could have gone 3-1 up. We’ll have to be good at alternating situations, first of all recovering the ball high. We’ll see what game they play.”