Repubblica journalist Enrico Currò believes that Stefano Pioli deserves high praise for the work he has done so far, praising the team’s growth.
Heading into last season Milan were enduring a six-year absence from the Champions League which then extended to seven, and despite a great end to 2019-20 post-lockdown, many doubted whether the squad were deep or strong enough to finish in the top four.
However, to the surprise of some fans, pundits and bookmakers like thienhabet, the Rossoneri secured a second-placed finish and a return to Europe’s elite club competition. They have carried the momentum on too and currently sit joint-top of the table with city rivals Inter, so it is an exciting time to support Milan again.
Curro spoke in an interview with MilanNews and talked about yesterday’s match against Venezia and about the next few games that await the team.
On the game against Venezia: “AC Milan controlled the game after all and Pioli realised that sometimes there is a need to let the so-called starters play when alternatives are not enough. The Rossoneri took the 3 points without doing anything transcendental, never risking.
“However, even in the last season it was more difficult to win games like that. It went well and it seems to me that Milan are a more self-confident team without too many anxieties. They lost their anxiety, even in difficult situations.”
In your opinion, is this the real weapon to this Milan?
“It’s early enough to pronounce something, but I think Milan have more equivalent alternatives – at least on a tactical level – than last year. This is a team that basically has two players for each position, if not three. This is important because in a phase like this where there are so many injuries, there have been no repercussions from the point of view of results.
“All this is an indication that Milan has grown. I also say that I happened to see the Rossoneri formation when they lost 2-1 away from home to Juventus in the year where they did not qualify for the Champions League by one point, and I must say that the steps forward have been remarkable.”
Of the three departments – defence, midfield and attack – can the strength of this Milan be considered the defence?
“In my opinion, in today’s football it doesn’t make much sense to talk about departments. Milan are a team with an offensive attitude that takes some risks in attacking. The fact that in many matches he does not concede a goal is a symptom of an excellent tactical balance.
“There is courage in Milan in proposing a game so the risks of conceding goals are there. Clearly when the opponent’s level is lower like yesterday, the risks are less, while when you play with stronger teams like Liverpool the risk increases. Don’t get used to Pioli’s team getting these clean sheets against certain types of opponents.
“It is important that Milan score goals, because in football, matches are now truly won by making one more goal than the opponent. In any case, the defense has found in Fikayo Tomori a functional player for this type of game because he has characteristics that were missing before, I am referring to speed and hardness in the scoring. Tomori can really become a champion.”
Can Milan win the Scudetto or do you have to think game by game?
“It is too early to talk about the Scudetto, but we can make some considerations. In the last season, Milan finished second at +2 from fifth in a very balanced season. Napoli came within a point of fourth place.
“This year the team really looks more balanced and complete than last year, so in theory they could do better. It is also true, however, that it will not be easy to mend the gap with Inter, but he can certainly repeat his placement among the top 4, guaranteeing his qualification for the Champions League again.”
And a mark on Pioli’s work since he arrived?
“I give him 8. Pioli has so far done everything he had to and could do, giving a game identity that does not give up even in the most difficult moments. This is the most important thing. There were moments in which Milan could also have changed their attitude, but instead he gave certainties to the players by continuing to encourage them. All the members of the squad have acquired confidence.”