Former AC Milan boss Arrigo Sacchi believes that tension and fatigue are to blame for the Rossoneri’s struggles recently, as well as those of Inter too.
There has been a worrying decline for both Milan and Inter in the last couple of rounds as they have picked up a combined three points from the four games, with Pioli’s men drawing against Salernitana and Udinese while the Nerazzurri lost to Sassuolo and were shut out by Genoa in a 0-0 draw.
Fans and pundits have accused the Milanese clubs of losing some of the brilliance that had distinguished them from the rest in the initial part of the season and Napoli seized the chance to take top spot as they won 2-1 against Lazio in the last minute.
The game on Tuesday at San Siro in the Coppa Italia is huge for both teams even if it is only the first leg of the semi-final with the second leg not for another six weeks. Arrigo Sacchi has spoken on the game during an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, starting with an appeal to those in charge.
“We are playing too much, we need to reduce the number of games, otherwise it will be difficult to see good football: the players, already at this point of the season, are exhausted and, consequently, they often get injured. If we love this sport, and don’t just think about the money it produces, let’s stop and think,” he said.
Both Milan and Inter come into the game while struggling. What is the cause of this decline?
“We need to distinguish between the two realities. Let’s start with Milan, who in my opinion is having an excellent season. If we look at the investments made on the market, which were few because priority was rightly given to the budget, and to the group of players in general, I feel like Milan are going beyond expectations.”
The fans are not happy after the draw against Udinese…
“I understand their state of mind, but they must be happy with the work of the club and that of the team. They are doing their utmost. They have focused on young people to lower costs and with young players, you know, generally you sow a lot and collect little.”
We no longer see the brilliant game like before….
“Milan suffer a lot from their ‘physical’ opponents, such as Udinese. They base the manoeuvre on speed, but find it difficult to recover the ball by pressing because, now, the distances between the departments are not correct. Against Udinese they did not have a great performance, it’s true, but I repeat: these are inconveniences that, when you have a young team, are on the agenda.
“Pioli is a coach who has improved a lot and knows how to grasp the situations that arise within the group very well. With young people it is easy to go from depression to exaltation. Now the game does not have the quality it had at the beginning of the season, but nothing prevents us from returning to that level.
“I would not be surprised by a sudden change of direction. And in any case that one thing is very clear: if Milan wins the Scudetto, it would be a historic achievement. I believe they can succeed, perhaps starting from a great performance in the Coppa Italia derby. The important thing is that everyone always remembers that their strength is the game, and not the individual. If they move ‘as a team’, they can hurt anyone.”
Inter have also dangerously slowed down. The reasons?
“Too many games. They have played six in twenty days. Now the Nerazzurri are in a difficult moment, they score little, there are some players, like Brozovic or Perisic, who are not in great shape. Let’s say the team is breathing.
“Having said that Genoa played a wonderful match, it must be taken into consideration that the Champions League commitments take away physical and nervous energy. You start thinking about a European match ten days earlier, and it wears you out. But Inter is not lacking in football. experience to manage this moment.
“The last championship showed that this team has high technical and moral values. Now it is a question of bringing them out and I am sure that Simone Inzaghi, who has been good at managing the group so far, will be able to strike the right strings. Starting with the Coppa Italia derby, of course. For me, Inter are still the big favourite for the Scudetto.”
And what type of derby are you expecting?
“I don’t know if we will see a good match. There is too much tension, there is too much fatigue in the players. And both Milan and Inter are having negative results in the league. It may be that attention not to suffer prevails, even if I think, and have always thought, that the best defence is the attack, because it makes you optimistic and confident and within your means.”