A big showdown to mark the start of what's sure to be an exciting seven days. In a week that will also see them face Liverpool and Juventus, the Rossoneri are currently focused on AC Milan v Lazio, a showdown that pits two of the five sides currently on maximum points in Serie A against each other. Coach Stefano Pioli spoke to the press ahead of tomorrow's 18:00 CEST kick-off at San Siro, with his words being broadcast on Milan TV and the AC Milan Official App.
HOW THE ROSSONERI ARE DOING
"It was quite a good international break. However, Krunić’s injury is a shame and has arrived at a moment of the season where we’ll be playing every three days. He’ll be out, as will Giroud, who will be back in training on Monday. Ibra and Kessie are available to play tomorrow. We have a squad that allows us to implement various solutions and be competitive. I’m happy with what I have at my disposal and am seeing an increasingly motivated team that works to the maximum in training. We’ve got many tests of maturity coming up. Each test will tell us where we’re at and how much we’ll need to raise our performance levels. They will be big opportunities to prove our worth. I’ll send out the best possible team tomorrow because we need to focus on Lazio; then, our attentions will turn to the Champions League."
"Lazio are a very strong team that combine technique with physicality. They’ve scored the most goals in the league so far. Tomorrow will be an exciting game where both sides will try to cause each other problems. It’s a six pointer and a very important game as we look to remain at the top of the table. Sarri is an excellent coach who has enjoyed success in Italy and England. It’s not a showdown between the two coaches but between two sides who play attacking football as a team and want to prevail over each other. In their first two matches, Lazio have proved that they’re ready and have assimilated the work they did during the summer."
"Ibra is a true great; he knows how he’s doing physically and that four months away from the pitch is a lot of time. However, he’s worked from morning to night and, like always, has displayed great professionalism and motivation levels. I don’t think any member of the squad will be able to play seven full matches in the next 21 days, so, like all the others, Zlatan will have to be managed. I hope he’ll be able to play as much as possible and do so on a continuous basis, something that was lacking a bit last year. Tomorrow, he’ll get some game time so he can start to reach peak physical condition."
"I certainly hope that he puts pen to paper, but it’s more a matter for the Club and his agent. It’s not the time to worry. I only talk to him about on-the-pitch matters, and I’ve seen a player who is motivated, calm and focused. There aren’t any problems. I think that our fans are too intelligent not to put the team above everything else. The thing they should be most concerned with is seeing players giving their all to try to win matches out on the pitch, and Franck is one of these. Those who take to the field deserve to be supported."
"I think that everybody has witnessed Tonali’s growth: he’s now a complete player with technical and physical capabilities. He’s a very professional lad and needs to carry on doing what he’s doing. There’s great competition for places here and, just like everyone else, he knows that the quality of what he produces is the thing that counts, not how many minutes he plays. Pellegri is working well, getting heavily involved and working on the details he needs to. I think that he could be available tomorrow. Messias is an intelligent guy and wants to demonstrate his qualities. I think he start on the right and cut inside or as an attacking midfielder in the centre. We’ll assess things when he’s fully fit; he needs to do specific individual work. Brahim is a very good player and has made great strides forward. He needed time, but now he’s complete. He needs to try to do difficult things because he’s capable of doing so."
DIFFERENT TACTICAL SOLUTIONS
"A three-man midfield could be an alternative, but we need all our midfielders to be in peak condition. Franck and Isma are recovering, with this also applying to Bakayoko. However, we have the quality to do something different tactically in some matches. It’s important for us to bring everyone up to the same level physically and in terms of tempo so we can make such decisions."
GROWTH COMPARED TO 2020/21
"For more than half a season, our performances were very consistent. Then, however, we dropped off too much to think about winning the league, especially in terms of our quality high up the pitch. We now need to prove that we’ve learnt our lesson and have improved in this respect. I don’t think it’ll just be the six pointers that make a difference; picking up as many points against other teams will be key too. Our objective is to give our all. It’s up to me to make the decisions as we look to consistently perform and remain in the best condition possible.”
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