Pioli explains decision to start Okafor up front and praises Loftus-Cheek’s form

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has revealed his thinking behind the decision to play Noah Okafor as the centre-forward against Hellas Verona today.

Milan are looking to make it five wins in a row against Verona this afternoon, having just booked their place in the Europa League quarter-finals where they will meet Roma.

There are several changes from the team that won against Slavia Praha, with Pierre Kalulu making his first start in over three months, Tijjani Reijnders and Ismael Bennacer rejoining the midfield and Okafor leading the attack.

With Juventus having dropped points at home against Genoa in the early kick-off, it is a chance for the Rossoneri to move three points ahead of them in second place before the international break.

Pioli was interviewed by DAZN a few minutes before the game at the Bentegodi, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.

Baroni [Verona manager] said that Milan are having their best moment…

“We feel good, we are fine and luckily we are all back in good condition. It will be a complicated match but we have the qualities to do well.”

How good has Loftus-Cheek been recently?

“He overcame the problems he had at the beginning, he came from a very difficult season, by managing him at the beginning we allowed him to find greater continuity and performance.

“He is an important player, he is fine. Every now and then I take away a bit of playing time from him and this ensures that he can play the next match.”

Talk us through the decision to play Okafor as a striker…

“Oli played the whole match on Thursday, today we will be able to find spaces in depth and he is able to exploit these situations. There are the right characteristics for the match we thought of.”

Is it a message to Jovic?

“No message, the choices are made to field the best lineup for today’s match and then have the right substitutions. I chose different characteristics, it is absolutely not a punishment but a choice.”


Tags AC Milan Stefano Pioli


  1. Ok4 has been really active. It’s clear Rafa and Puli are still working out where to find him. If we have the same three in the second half I’m expecting a couple goal involvements from him.

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