AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has offered some explanations for the team’s defensive struggles and hit back at the criticism of Charles De Ketelaere.
Milan have not have any time to dwell on the midweek defeat against Chelsea as they will face off against Juventus in what is a crucial early-season clash at San Siro on Saturday evening, hoping to right the wrongs from a disappointing performance in London.
Although the Rossoneri are suffering with several key absences, the general feeling is that the display Pioli’s men offered against Graham Potter’s side was a long way from their best capabilities, but the upcoming game against Juve and the return fixture against Chelsea provides a chance for a response.
Pioli spoke to the reporters who gathered in the conference room at Milanello to preview tomorrow’s game, with his comments relayed by MilanNews and translated below.
Is tomorrow a crossroads in the season?
“Within a season there are 2 or 3 games that weigh more than three points and tomorrow’s match has an important weight.”
Is it better, at this moment, to face Juventus rather than a team in the bottom half of the table?
“It would have been better to play better against Chelsea, but the motivations are there regardless of the opponent. We didn’t play as we know. We are all responsible – me first and foremost – for Wednesday, and there is in us all the desire and determination to play better than how we played in London.”
You’re allowing De Ketelaere to play a lot…
“Charles has a great future ahead of him. I am satisfied with what he is doing. Many criticised Leao or Tonali in the past. De Ketelaere is a talented player who needs time, the path he has taken is the right one.”
How are the injured players, particularly Theo Hernandez?
“Yesterday he did everything with the team, if today he confirms that he is well he will be available.”
A few weeks ago Allegri said ‘try to remove 5 starters from Milan’ when talking about Juve’s struggles…
“If only it had been five. These are moments that happen, but I have a team ready. I see a group determined to continue our journey.”
Are you worried about too many goals conceded?
“We have conceded a few too many goals. We have to do better. Chelsea were good at exploiting our mistakes on Wednesday. We have to pay more attention and make fewer mistakes.”
Is De Ketelaere a mystery?
“For me it is absolutely no mystery.”
Did you speak to Gerry Cardinale in London?
“No, he wanted the team to be focused. He was certainly not satisfied with the performance.”
How did you see the team?
“We forgot about the match against Chelsea immediately, then we’ll go back to thinking about it from Sunday morning. Yesterday the boys were tired, but I saw them eager. It doesn’t mean that tomorrow we will win the game: let’s not forget the team Juventus are and what targets they have, but we will give it our all. In the Champions League it is clear that we have to level up. We know how to do better things, but we didn’t succeed. ”
Do you concede more goals because you are more attacking?
“It is true that we are more attacking this season as we are playing with a more offensive attacking midfielder. But I think it depends on this, because in many situations we are in numerical superiority and therefore we could have done better.”
The other injured?
“For tomorrow the only news should be Theo.”
Is there an explanation for the many muscle injuries?
“There has never been such a dense season. Muscle injuries have increased by 20%. Unfortunately we have also had injuries in the national team. I work with important professionals, we will try to do better.”
Could anyone else be playing on the right besides Krunic?
“Krunic did not play as a winger, but as a right midfielder. The solutions are there to have an unpredictable attacking thrust.”
What do you expect from Juventus tomorrow?
“Usually they start with a high centre of gravity, then they drop deeper. I don’t know if they will play more tightly. The important thing is to be compact and not make mistakes with simple things.”
What are the difficulties in facing Allegri?
“He’s a capable coach who trains a strong team. Then every match is different. So far against him there have been closed games, but in every game there can be different things. We want to approach the game well, when we do it we become a team. who can have his say.”
Will Giroud be starting tomorrow?
“The line-up I choose tomorrow morning, yesterday who played in London had an unloading session. I think Giroud is fine, then I’ll see what to choose. We must not forget that we have many games in the next few days.”
How do you explain Wednesday’s defeat?
“We have data that tell us that our physical and technical efficiency was not up to par. Do we think Napoli are inferior to Chelsea now? Against Napoli we have had fantastic data, but if you play below your level with certain teams you can lose. If we play at our level in the league you win, maybe even if you go down a little bit in level… Wednesday we missed in many things: last year Liverpool had put us under pressure.”
Could there be any tactical changes in tomorrow’s match?
“In every match we change something, tomorrow will be a different match too. Tomorrow we will prepare things to put Juventus in difficulty, who are conceding few goals.”
Is your mission with Leao over?
“It’s not over. He must not be satisfied and I must expect a lot. There are several things we can do better.”
What spirit did you see in your team?
“We were all disappointed with our performance. It is inevitable that we expect a reaction and a determined test.”
Rebic likes playing against Juventus…
“Very important for him and for the team. It is clear that he is not yet at 100%, but his condition is improving.”