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press-conference18 October 2021

PIOLI: "IT'LL BE A DECISIVE MATCH"

The thoughts of the coach and Rafa from Milanello ahead of Porto v AC Milan

It's almost time for matchday three in the Champions League, with Stefano Pioli's men set to play their second away fixture of the season in the competition. Coming up at 21:00 CEST tomorrow is a match against Sérgio Conceição's Porto at the Estádio do Dragão. The Rossoneri are on the hunt for their first points in Europe following defeats to Liverpool and Atlético. Today, on the eve of the game, Stefano Pioli and Rafael Leão spoke to the press about the pertinent talking points of the match. Their thoughts were broadcast live on our YouTube channel and on Milan TV.

STEFANO PIOLI'S WORDS

PORTO
"We'll be up against a solid and well-organised side. They're used to playing Champions League football and have high-quality attacking players. The match will come with the difficulties that are present in a top-level game. Porto are complete in all departments, and I've been impressed by the quality and pace that Díaz possesses. He's a player we'll have to keep an eye on when we defend. We used the international break to study them and have prepared a strategy that we hope will bring rewards. Our two matches against Porto will be decisive for the final standings."

INDIVIDUALS
"Ibrahimović is definitely doing better, but he was only involved for 15 minutes on Saturday. I think he can play more minutes, but I don't believe he can remain on the pitch much longer than he did against Verona. Bennacer is doing fine; he showed he's in good shape on Saturday. Krunić could start and is ready to do so; he'll be competing with Maldini for a place in the line-up. Rade also did very well when he came on in the league. Leão has incredible potential. He's doing very well and could do more. He's made great strides forward in terms of remaining involved in the game."

ATMOSPHERE
"Today, I saw a motivated side who are being driven by their desire to combine a performance with a positive result. This is what we'll try to do tomorrow. We have to remain focused and stay composed when reading every single situation. Being attentive and determined and showing high concentration levels in both phases will be vital. In general, I support my players: I try to give them all the information I can, motivate them and coach them in the best way. We're in continuous dialogue to try to grow together."

THE THOUGHTS OF RAFAEL LEÃO

TOMORROW'S MATCH
"It's always a difficult match against Porto: they have great quality. Tomorrow, it will be like a final, and we want to win some points to advance forward. We'll try to take to the pitch with determination and play in the right way from the first minute. We'll have to be careful because they will want to win, and it'll be decisive for them too."

HIS AND THE TEAM'S PROGRESSION
"I'm more persistent during the match, thanks to the Coach and my teammates. I feel everyone's confidence in me, with AC Milan having given me the opportunity to prove my worth. This year, I feel my mindset is where it should be, and I'm able to make the difference in every moment on the pitch. The most important thing tomorrow will be to win, to try to move forward. Overall, we are a young team with the right mindset. Tomorrow, I think we will be able to show what we can do."

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
"Serie A is a difficult league: when I arrived, it was very different to what I'd experienced before. As a child, I dreamed of playing in the Champions League, of hearing the music of the anthem after coming out on the pitch: for me, it’s a very important opportunity to try to make the most of. But what counts tomorrow is to win."


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