Pioli discusses Theo celebration incident, performance vs. Verona and Chukwueze’s story

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli believes that his side handled the game against Hellas Verona well given that they were coming off just a couple of days rest.

Milan hit the woodwork twice in the first half and took the lead not long before the break, with Theo Hernandez taking advantage of a couple of lucky bounces to get one-on-one with the goalkeeper Montipo and finish.

Minutes into the second half the lead was doubled when Noah Okafor stole possession and surged through on goal, seeing his shot parried into the path of Christian Pulisic who finished into an empty net.

The home side did get one back, but Samuel Chukwueze got his first Serie A goal off the bench to make it a two-goal lead again and it was absolutely worth the wait given it came via a stunning volley.

Pioli spoke to DAZN at full-time to assess the result and the performance of his team, which puts Milan three points above Juventus, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.

What are your thoughts on the match and the performance of your side?

“I want to wish Joe Barone good luck, hoping that things can go as well as possible. We played the match well in my opinion, on their goal we could have been more careful about the rebound.

“It is clear that incidents change the mental attitude of the match. We were a team, we created a lot, we ran a lot. Considering that we were coming from Thursday’s match, I think it’s a very positive match.”

Theo’s booking means he will miss the Fiorentina game. It seems that the yellow card came after protests from the Verona bench…

“It was like this and it’s not good, Theo always celebrates like this, he always says ‘talk, talk’. It wasn’t a protest or a lack of respect towards the opposing fans. The intervention of the Verona coach caused an argument and a misunderstanding to arise.

“But Theo didn’t do anything and now we will have a suspended player. I think you have to talk a lot and well with your players and you have to leave the other players alone.”

Talk us through the changes you made in the second half…

“I saw Loftus and Pulisic a little tired, it’s normal, we played not even 72 hours ago. We needed brilliance and freshness, which Musah, Chukwueze and Giroud gave us. We deservedly won.”

You respected Verona a lot by choosing a strong side…

“Exactly, we studied our opponents well, who had a week to prepare for it. They had these characteristics, a lot of running, a lot of runs into the box, a lot of speed and we tried to make our players who have these characteristics play.”

Chukwueze, what’s the story?

“It’s the story of a foreign player who comes to play in a difficult and complicated league, where the demands are certainly different than those he had at Villarreal. He is putting a lot of will and effort into trying to do the best possible.

“I believe that too many times judgments are rushed and there is no time to wait. They are guys who come from a different mentality, another way of living and training, another way of playing.

“I’m very happy with the goal and that he’s doing well when he’s called upon. We have the patience necessary to wait for all our players.”

Are Theo and Leao back?

“Yes, absolutely yes. They have superior technical and physical means, mentally they are very continuous. They are a very strong pair.

“The opponents have to worry, wait a little longer, take precautions. Clearly they allow us other plays and other spaces. They are fantastic players and we are enjoying them.”

Leao did everything but score today…

“He will learn this too. He is learning a lot, he is growing every day in every way. Here he wanted to score, but if he passed it to Okafor he had the goal wide open. I understand that an attacker in front of the goalkeeper wants to score, even more precision is expected of him in these situations.

“Here it was quite easy to pass it to Okafor but even today he was a clearly dangerous player. He attacked, he defended, he was important for the team and that’s what matters most.”


Tags AC Milan Stefano Pioli Verona Milan


  1. “Chukwueze, what’s the story?

    “It’s the story of a foreign player who comes to play in a difficult and complicated league, where the demands are certainly different than those he had at Villarreal”

    Same with CDK. Some people hit the ground running, others take time

    1. sure its definitely a fair assessment but you can also argue that cdk is roughly 5 years younger and that chukwueze already had experienced living in a different enviroment and country which cdk never had done. He was also extremely unlucky that he didn’t have maybe 5 assists after his first 10 matches or something which goes back to his teammates being extremely inefficient infront of goal as he had created several fairly open chances for them.

    2. My bad as i actually thought chukwueze already had turned 25 by now but he is only roughly 2 years older than the belgian.

      1. Your point remains. I do recall CDK early games, could and should have bagged some assists easily if his teammates paid any attention. He has an incredible knack for seeing where the pass should go to for a run into space. Happens in Atalanta all the time as I watch them more now out of curiosity. Dare I say even his Atalanta teammates are culpable for the very same thing..he really should have more assts than what he has right now for them.

        Imo same story with Chuk though I wouldn’t have paid that much for him and esp as he’s a sub. That’s an expensive sub. He had way more downsides than CDK.

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