Pioli discusses Thiaw’s emergence, formation choices and injury situation

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli hopes that his side can channel the momentum from the last two wins, both of which brought about much-needed clean sheets.

Milan face off against Monza at the Stadio Brianteo tomorrow evening hoping to extend their winning run to three games after the 1-0 wins against Torino and Spurs at San Siro inside the last week.

The game against Tottenham in particular was a big step forward psychologically for Pioli’s men as they won a Champions League knockout game for the first time in his tenure and ended a decade-long wait as well.

Pioli spoke to the reporters who gathered at Milanello for his pre-match press conference on the eve of the trip north, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.

Has the team always given everything and never let the fans down?

“Absolutely. This is the strength of our environment. The affection of the fans has never been lacking and this keeps us confident for the future.”

How are Milan doing?

“We’re coming from two good games and we have to do well tomorrow too. The next result will tell how the team is. We’re coming from a positive week, we have to do our best tomorrow too to win.”

Can Leao play the centre-forward as Berlusconi said?

“I always agree with Berlusconi.”

How are the team looking?

“Everyone experiences the results with a gut, we have to be impervious to both criticism and excessive praise. It’s the championship that gives us the concrete possibility of playing in the Champions League again next year. I’ve seen the things I wanted to see.”

What are you expecting from Monza?

“Palladino must be congratulated for the work he is doing. We will have to be careful tomorrow. In the first leg the result was wide, but it was a difficult match. We must play with confidence: it is an opportunity that must be exploited and to make many points. Maximum respect for a team that plays well.”

How are Tomori, Bennacer and Vrankcx?

“Tomori will be there. Bennacer won’t and Calabria won’t be there either due to a problem with a hip muscle. Vranckx is ready, he’s doing well.”

In whom did you see the eyes of the tiger?

“No one in particular, but everyone. We are ready for tomorrow.”

What can you tell us about Thiaw and his growth?

“I don’t discover talent, the club does it. I let them play when I see them ready. He has excellent qualities, he has everything to become a very strong defender.”

Why is Bennacer injured again?

“He still has some discomfort and therefore there’s no point in risking him. I hope he’s ready for Atalanta.”

How is Ibra doing?

“His condition is improving. He will be available again tomorrow.”

Could Origi start tomorrow?

“Giroud is doing well. Origi is ready, let’s see what choices I will make for tomorrow.”

Was a new Milan born with Tottenham?

“We’re doing well, but we can change without problems. It depends on how I see the team. I like the fact that I can play with more formations. I don’t know how long we’ll go on like this, we’ll certainly continue on this path tomorrow.”

What does Saelemaekers need to improve on? Can Messias play that role?

“Saele has to be careful not to get caught in behind in the defensive phase. In Belgium he played as a fifth player [wing-back], so he can do it. Like Messias, both of them can give us something important in a one-on-one.”

How is De Ketelaere doing?

“Our strength is the group, everything helps each other. Leao, Tonali and Kalulu have experienced similar moments and therefore the support for Charles is important. I’m sure he will give us some satisfaction”.

What do you need to be better at tomorrow?

“In both phases. We have to put them in difficulty and we have to be compact and attentive behind them.”

Is there a deputy Bennacer in the squad?

“Against Tottenham, I was very satisfied with the two midfielders. In the build-up phase we have to do better, but I’m satisfied with Krunic. As soon as Bennacer returns, we’ll have one more option.”

How do you judge Milan’s momentum?

“Unfortunately or fortunately, situations change quickly. A defeat can throw you away, while a victory changes everything. I saw a team willing to do well tomorrow too.”

Are Monza a team that can cause problems for the top sides?

“They are playing well, so tomorrow we’ll need a high-level performance and great determination. In the last two games we’ve won over 60% in tackles, we’ll have to do well in this sense tomorrow too.”

What do you think of Leao’s words of support for De Ketelaere?

“The desire to help each other has never been lacking. In difficult times, having someone close to help you and give you advice is important, especially for such young kids.”

Tags AC Milan Stefano Pioli


  1. “I let them play when I see them ready.” No sir you don’t, you only let them play when you don’t have any other choice due to injuries. Anyway, I like that he admitted that he doesn’t discover(see, perceive, discern, detect(maybe even comprehend) etc) talent.
    Like they say,” the end justifies the means” and if benching CdK or Adele or Aster gives us a second star then so be it.

  2. Berlusconi said that Leao should play as a center forward, something that they bought him to play in the first place. But Leao couldn’t cut it or refuse to , and they had to move him to the easier option on the left where there isn’t that much of a need of actually understanding the game.
    Leao should be Milan’s Osimhen

    1. What are you talking about bro?? Pioli even said Leao prefers to play up top but that he (Pioli) moved him to RW to fit his system. Another Leao basher. Unreal. Can’t wait to see all the bashers cry when he leaves and his replacement (because we won’t spend big $$ on him) is half the player Leao is lol.

      1. Leao said that playing closer to the goal is his favorite adter he got benched for few games. He had to say it, but if you watch him play, you could see that he doesn’t have the movement of a striker because he actually needs to understand the game, movement, and spacing. He actually has to battle with CBs for positioning, engage in areal duels, he doesn’t and never have done any of those things. Leao is an absolute non factor on setpieces even though he is among the tallest on the team. Watch him next time what he does during corners and free kicks.
        Leao could leave today, as far as i am concerned, as long Maldini doesn’t let him leave for free as he has done with Giggio, Hakan, Kessie, and Romagnoli. There was Milan before and there will be Milan after Leao.
        Great athlete, very poor footballer. He can’t even shoot the ball on goal.
        Left wing is the easiest position to replace. There are several players in the league who are better than Leao as LW. Kvara and Lookman in their 1st season in serie A have better games and numbers halfway thru the season than leao has ever had.
        If Leao was such a great player, rich teams would have already bought him. Besides some cheeky offer from Chelsea, no team has come forward to sign Leao. Chelsea spent 100 mil on another great athlete but a bad footballer in Mudryk and 121 on Enzo, but they didn’t want to go over 70 mil for the “MVP” of serie A.
        Watch him play, don’t listen to what he says. And if you are already listening, listen to what people like sacchi, Portugal NT coach , Pioli, Nesta and even Maldini have said about Leao. He doesn’t know how to play without the ball at his feet and when he has it, he is only trying to outrun his opponent.
        He has all the tangible qualities to be the best player in the world but almost none of the intangibles.

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