AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has insisted that there is ‘determination’ in his players and expects a response against Lecce tomorrow.
It has not been the best of starts to the new year for Milan as they followed up a hard fought 2-1 win against Salernitana on January 4 with a late collapse against Roma who fought back to earn a 2-2 draw at San Siro and a cup exit at the hands of Torino.
The midweek game was particularly worrying as the Granata had 10 men for the last 20 minutes of normal time plus all of extra time, but the Rossoneri were still unable to break them down and the visitors won with a goal on the counter in the final 10 minutes of extra time.
Pioli spoke to the reporters who gathered in the press room at Milanello about tomorrow’s trip to face Lecce and the current moment his players are experiencing, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.
What did you see in the eyes of the players?
“Great determination and will. In the last two games we haven’t achieved the results we wanted, we all have to do better, but I saw the desire to learn from mistakes.”
How are the injured players?
“The group is strong when it’s complete. The more we have, the stronger we are. People like Ibra, Kjaer and Florenzi are not only strong on the pitch, but they are also leaders. Origi and Kjaer are recovered for tomorrow, Rebic could recover for the Supercoppa. I hope to have the others back soon because we need everyone.”
Why did you choose to bring everyone back to Milanello after the defeat against Torino?
“When there’s something wrong, I struggle to wait for the next day. I preferred to speak to my players immediately to explain what to do best and to let everyone rest well. We played well against Roma, a fair match against Torino until the 70th. It’s not a question of second lines, but of attention and will.”
Where does it start from?
“With Torino we made 36 shots towards goal, only 8 on target. We lacked composure. At times we were too frantic. We have to do better starting down tomorrow also in view of the Supercoppa.”
What have your impressions of Vranckx been?
“He has excellent qualities, he’s fitting in well and will find his space. I always try to field the best formation.”
Is there lack of hunger?
“No, I think it’s a matter of composure. We know that if we want to win something again this year we have to raise our level.”
Why is Adli playing so little?
“He’s training well, he’s very available. I make choices based on the various matches. He was penalizsd because there’s great competition in his role, there are no problems in his adaptation.”
Do you need something from the mercato? Maldini said it’s closed…
“I knew about the situation and remain convinced that our only problem is not having the full team in every department. There is no need to intervene.”
Could Bakayoko leave?
“I don’t know right now, there’s no news. He’s a great professional because he’s always training at his best.”
Is there a lot on the line in the next two games?
“I think it’s normal that there is a more critical eye towards us because we won the Scudetto and we played good football. We are the first to always want to do better. The criticisms are after the last two games because we didn’t win.
“The season is long, it won’t even end tonight after Napoli-Juventus. The Supercoppa is an immediate and important target for us. The season is still long, let’s not forget how many points we had in mid-February. In terms of points, we want to do better than last year.”
How did you see De Ketelaere as a striker?
“He played a good game as a centre-forward, then when there were fewer spaces he struggled more.”
How do you rate the latest performances?
“Against Roma we played a good game until the 85th minute. Against Torino I didn’t see a bad performance when the numbers were equal, then with one more player we were insufficient. The 3 or 4 man defence is not decisive. For that, as far as I’m concerned, it’s important to send a team onto the field with a strategy and clear tactical ideas.”
Happy with Bennacer’s renewal?
“He deserves the renewal. He is very ambitious and humble because he knows he can improve further. The work the club is doing is important, I’m happy with all the renewals. I hope that more positive news will arrive soon.”
Can Dest play even further up the field?
“Against Torino, he played a good game. I told him his problem is his head, he must remain concentrated and applied every day because he has important characteristics. I don’t think starting high already is good for him. He has great intensity and work rate, he must be a nuisance even in the defensive phase.”
Who is the favourite for the Scudetto between Allegri and Spalletti?
“They’re two Tuscans who really like to take it out on each other. One says the other is the favourite. Right now it’s clear that Napoli are favourites: 7 points are a lot, but not decisive. I will enjoy the match: on the one hand there is the brilliance of Napoli and on the other the concreteness of Juve.”
Have you seen a tired team?
“The goal we conceded against Torino is one of the few we conceded on the counter. We attacked well, but we had to make a foul. We made a mistake, but it’s not an issue that sees us failing.”
What game will it be tomorrow?
“Lecce are very confident, they deservedly won against Lazio. They are fine, they will create difficulties for us.”
How are you seeing Colombo’s growth at Lecce?
“He’s doing very well, he’s showing great improvements and Milan are watching him with great attention.”