The AC Milan coach on the eve of the derby: “I’ve always thought that we play on Sunday because of how we train, and this has certainly been an excellent week from all points of view. Ibra? Unfortunately, the matches with Tottenham come early …”
February 4 – Milanello (Varese)
Pioli said some time ago that he had stopped letting the team stay in training camp at Milanello, on the eve of the evening home games, in order to have a shorter transfer. In short, a question of concentration: from Carnago to the Meazza there are about three quarters of an hour by bus, from the hotel in the San Siro area it is ten and the charge remains constant. This time it’s a change: his Milan will have to squeeze all the energy they can from the extra night at Milanello, where even the walls exude energy, and hold it right up to the belly of the stadium. Along the Varese-Milan, tomorrow afternoon, perhaps it would be enough for the players to think back to February 5th a year ago. Oh yeah, the two-to-one derby comeback, the derby where Giroud shot. Exactly one year has passed, a notable concurrence of the calendar that could perhaps serve as a starting point.
Twelve months ago Milan came off a draw with Juve and it was the first derby that Pioli faced without Ibra. The coach spoke of a team that had to go beyond the limits, then as now without concrete help from the transfer market, but it was a Diavolo at -4 from leaders Inter – which later became -1 – and not a team distressed by its own mistakes. “We threw ourselves into work with great attention and determination, characteristics that we will need tomorrow – explains Pioli -. We have a great opportunity and we must do everything to seize it. I’ve always thought that on Sundays you play for how you train, even if that hasn’t been the case lately. However, this week was excellent for willpower and attention. Sure, Inter gets better at this challenge, but last year we were the ones who did better in the league and we still have the opportunity to prove it again this year”. A Milan obviously buried by criticism after a devastating January. Pioli, however, continues to receive positive signals from his boys during the week: “The criticisms are not excessive, they are all there. Only the mediocre do not admit mistakes. I can help the team in a different way. Due to the attitudes seen during the week, I’m even more convinced of coaching a special group. At Milanello there is a union of intentions, we have not lost the spirit. What has happened in the last three years has not been an ‘accident’, nor a coincidence”.
Pioli sweeps away any result management hypothesis (“A draw would be fine? You can’t approach it like that because you’re getting closer to defeat”), he doesn’t unbutton himself on the tactical aspect (“The module? I don’t know. That is, the I know, but I’m not telling you today…”), does not fall into potential controversy (“After the Super Cup did the Inter fans say ‘We ate them’? Winners celebrate, losers keep quiet and suffer”), reiterates the goal Champions (“It’s not that since we’ve gotten there in the last two years, it should be taken for granted”) and nips alleged frictions in the bud in the locker room: “It’s not like that, it would be even easier if I had discussed with some players who maybe pull the leg back. No, no one has ever had attitudes that are not suited to our way of working. It will take quality, lucidity and a lot of heart that my boys have. Unfortunately something got jammed and you have to rewind the tape and start again. I worked by stimulating them, inciting and encouraging them, we trained by working every day with at least 50-55 minutes of effective work”. Finally, a thought for Ibra, excluded from the Champions League list: “The two matches against Tottenham unfortunately arrive early, there are still no guarantees about his return and I couldn’t make any other choices. I hope with all my heart that he can return to his level, for what he is doing. What he does, few would do.”
February 4, 2023 (change February 4, 2023 | 18:49)
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