After Genoa, it’s time for Sassuolo. Three days on from their match against Ballardini’s side, AC Milan will return to the San Siro pitch to face the Neroverdi on matchday 32 in Serie A. On the eve of the match, Stefano Pioli spoke to the press.
"We need to be focused and well-prepared. We’re heading into the game on the back of a difficult win, which should help us in terms of our conviction and mentality. We’ll be facing a side that thrives on preparing for such matches, they play a very modern and fast game. We’ll need to be ready to produce a high-quality performance that lives up to our expectations."
AC MILAN’S CURRENT SITUATION
"We have a few problems and need to have a closer look at the conditions of Bennacer, Çalhanoğlu, Ibrahimović and Hernández. We’ll have a better understanding of how they’re doing tomorrow. The first two have knocks, while Zlatan and Theo are suffering from fatigue. I don’t think there’s been an overload of work, we’re not worried about this. Against Genoa, it wasn’t the best game on a technical or athletic level. Tomorrow will be a completely different match from a tactical point of view: there could be more space to play in."
"Mandžukić did well when he entered the fray on Sunday, he provided us with a real presence and aggressiveness. He’s an intelligent player and, while he still won’t be able to play a full 90 minutes, I believe in him and think he’ll be able to lend us a big hand in the closing stages of the season. On a psychological level, Romagnoli went through a period where he struggled slightly because we played numerous matches. Now, he’s doing better, even if he’s not in absolute peak condition. However, he’s putting in the work to reach this. Donnarumma is calm and focused, which are the best characteristics to have going into the end of the season. While other things may be discussed on the outside, there are no other topics here: we focus on our work."
FURTHER COMMENTS ON INDIVIDUALS
"Tonali is doing well but can do more. He’s made a big leap forward and also needed time to adapt to a new formation. He could play tomorrow. Hauge? I’m happy with him, it’s not the right time to talk about the future. We’re a great club and there’s heavy competition. Leão showed some excellent movement on Sunday. Sometimes, he focuses on the ball too much and loses sight of what exactly is happening around him. Given the characteristics that we have, constantly looking forward is essential for this team."
"In the last seven years, AC Milan have never finished in the top four. For us, it’s something that would demonstrate that there’s been continuity in terms of growth. Seven matches remain, and we’re focused on what’s coming up. It’s not the right time to talk about the future, and I’m not the best person to do so. Right now, we have the same number of points that we had at the end of last season. And that’s despite the fact we’ve played 13 matches in Europe, of which we lost just two. It’s clear that the team have grown. We must only focus on doing the maximum from now until the end."
WHERE THE TEAM CAN GROW
"We control matches, but we can give the impression that we’re capable of losing from one moment to the next. We need to maintain control and not give our opponents hope that they can get back into it. We can do this by learning how to interpret certain moments of the game better. We like playing with intensity. Knowing how to dominate and, in particular, control matches is an aspect that we need to improve.
(Photo Getty Images)