AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli believes that yesterday’s win against Atalanta and subsequent second-placed finish is just the beginning of the path for the team.
Franck Kessie scored twice from the penalty spot to fire the Rossoneri to not only a top four spot but also a second-placed finish by virtue of leapfrogging Atalanta. It will be Milan’s first Champions League participation since the 2013-14 season, and the players took to social media to celebrate a fantastic achievement.
Pioli was a guest in the Milan TV studios during the “Inferno del Lunedì” broadcast conducted by Mauro Suma, with his comments transcribed by MilanNews and translated below.
“Yesterday we knew we could begin to close a circle. From that defeat in Bergamo we began to build our path, a new Milan, made up of a lot of work, a lot of will, to always believe in the things we have It was a beautiful, difficult, but stimulating path that gave us incredible satisfaction last night. We reached an important goal through another great performance,” he said.
On the young age of the team: “I think at the beginning of the season it was right to ride the enthusiasm of our boys because things were going well, indeed: the mental freshness gave us a lot of energy and we took advantage of it. We took advantage of the freedom to go to field without worry.
“The most difficult thing is the other one: when we started to lose a few games there, maybe at that moment the tension and concern came. We, Maldini and Massara were good at never losing faith in our way. to work and take the field. I think this was the best thing because it had the opportunity to grow with the right balance and the right pressures, without too many exasperating situations.”
Pioli received a lot of praise for his tactical approach during the game as he allowed Milan to cede possession to Atalanta and told the team to pick their moments to counter and inflict damage up the other end, which seemed a far more streetwise approach than in previous games against Gasperini’s side.
On preparation for the match: “We have very clear playing principles in mind. It is a question of proposing a football that is not passive, but proactive, not to wait, but to try to command and control the game, trying to be more and more dangerous than the opponent. Then there is always in the preparation of a game the attention on the opponent.
“It is important to give your players the opportunity to play the ball to put the opponent in difficulty; not all opponents are the same: there are matches in where it is better to be aggressive, others less, others where it is better to dribble a little more, but we always want to try to dominate and be more dangerous than the opponent.”
On the Milan fans: “This season the AC Milan fans gave us a great emotion. They charged us by making us understand what we were doing. We did a season warming the hearts of the fans for better or for worse, because the fans understood that we play with spirit, with will. Seeing them so close to us gave us the energy to face a very complicated and very difficult match.”
On his feelings at Milan: “I am aware of what I see and hear; I prepare the strategy for the next game a lot and I think I know the characteristics that are needed, to see who is better or worse, who to play the starter, I am very careful and compared to the past I am much more aware and less hesitant. Even if everyone has doubts, even those who speak saying they have the whole truth. It’s always difficult to leave out players who give you everything during the week, but you have to make these kinds of choices.”
On the messages from fans: “I will read these messages to my players when we meet again. The best we can achieve is to make people happy with our successes. We have had a great season, let’s enjoy this summer knowing that the difficulty will still come.”
On the team group: “Until yesterday at 11pm all my players were focused and motivated to achieve a very important goal, knowing that some of them will probably have the opportunity to gain other experiences from today. This means for me and for the club coaching a group of very responsible players. I thank them all, especially those who played less. Many young people, such as Dalot, Diaz, Kalulu, had never played like this year. Everyone collected what they deserved, what they have sown. Thanks to their application, their will, the air that reigns inside Milanello, we have gone beyond our limits.”