It’s been an important year for the Rossoneri, whose final home match of 2021 will be against a fellow high-flyer. Indeed, coming up at San Siro is AC Milan v Napoli: a big, exciting and must-win showdown. It’s a game that Coach Stefano Pioli has spoken about today in a press conference from Milanello. His words were broadcast, as usual, on YouTube, Milan TV and Twitch.
HEADING TOWARDS NAPOLI
"I don’t know about our numbers against Napoli or those pertaining to my record against Spalletti. AC Milan have helped me make great strides forward, and perhaps this will help me tomorrow too. We’re enjoying a great first half to the campaign, and now just two games remain. I’d like to surpass the 43 points we collected last year. We need to start pedalling hard again. We’ll be up against a quality side tomorrow night, and a big performance will be required."
"We’ll be up against opponents that prepare for their matches carefully. We’ll need to be intelligent and composed in terms of making the right decisions at the right time, in every situation. Against Empoli, Napoli’s display was enough to win; only the result went against them. It’ll be a very important six-pointer for both teams and I expect to face a determined and intense side, just like we will be. We have a game plan and I’ll select the most suitable players, but we’ll be ready to intervene during the match. They set up in a similar way to us and have a very dynamic midfield. In terms of tactics, I think the technical quality on show and making choices at the right moment will be key."
WORK DURING THE WEEK
"The team have always been able to respond, throwing themselves into our daily work and displaying high concentration levels and enthusiasm in the process. Aside from Theo, who has had a few problems, everyone has trained well this week, showing intensity, focus and quality. Right now, it’s looking more like a ‘no’ regarding whether Hernández will be able to play, but we’ll decide tomorrow morning. Over the past few days, he’s worked separately."
"This season, we made an excellent start; then, our opponents started to do better than us. Tomorrow, we need to try to display our qualities out on the pitch with the aim of producing a high-quality performance for 95 minutes. Inter are displaying the qualities that they had last year, but I don’t think that league titles are won in December. Last season, we were top for a long time; now, we need to pick up as many points as possible to do better than last year. In my first season, we collected 66 points without cup competitions; last year, our tally was 79 in a season where we were involved in cup action. I expect to pick up more points during the second half of the campaign than we did last season."
"Tonali is enjoying a great season, and I’m absolutely convinced that he can still grow a lot in terms of his reading of the game, both offensively and defensively. We don’t have a player that can decide a match on their own one way or another: our focus is on the team. It’s possible that Covid-19 has taken something away from Brahim, but there’s no physical problem there at the moment. He needs to rediscover the technical skills he has. It might be the case that he feels a bit of pressure; he has more responsibility this year. These are young guys, and it’s normal for them to endure some difficulties: difficult paths create more experienced riders."
CONDITION OF THE TEAM
"We’re working to find solutions and have tried to increase our injury prevention and recovery work. I expect improvements in this regard. We’re convinced that the situation will improve. In general, I’m very happy with the quality and characteristics of my players. In the last two matches, there was a drop in quality, but I’m in charge of an intelligent group that knows that it possesses the qualities required to grow. We know that we can do it. If we hadn’t dropped off last year, I think we would have won the Scudetto. However, on our journey of growth, something like that was to be expected. During the winter break, we’ll have time to recuperate on both a physical and mental level. After Empoli, we’ll have a few days off; it’s only right to do so. Then, we’ll focus on preparing for our match against Roma, as well as a challenging month where we’ll also be involved in Coppa Italia action."
AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS
"I’m always in favour of safeguarding the health of my players, and I’m sure that the Club will make the right decision based on the situation that arises."
"The Primavera often train with us, we use them as sparring partners. I also talk to Giunti a lot. We follow the lads on a daily basis in the hope that they can make the step up to the first team."
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