The Milan coach on the eve of the away match against Borussia: “The objective is to be competitive. And win every match. We must take the field with conviction and we will draw conclusions at the end of the season”
3 October – Dortmund
Choirs and speakers, we talk (almost) about nothing else. Stefano Pioli had Milan train this morning with the Yellow Wall chants at full volume and in the conference he explained: “The idea was born watching the matches, knowing what environment we will find. I wanted to prepare the players from an environmental as well as a tactical point of view. The important thing will be to communicate on the pitch because they won’t even hear my voice. The environment will be beautiful, but there is no fear. I told the team that the stadium might be reminiscent of Anfield, but from the environment we will find energy and adrenaline to play the best match possible.” Everything is clear, with a statistical annotation that makes it clear: “Borussia hasn’t lost at home since November 2021 – says Pioli -. They can concede something but it will depend on our ability to interpret matches with consistency, intelligence and quality in our choices.”
For those wondering which lineup Milan will play with, here it is. Maignan in goal, Calabria-Thiaw-Tomori-Theo defenders, Musah, Reijnders and Pobega in the middle, Pulisic-Giroud-Leao in attack. Who will be the point guard? Most likely Reijnders. “It will depend on what type of midfielder I want to use, whether I want insertions or dribbling,” replies Pioli… without answering. But then he adds: “The lower top must dribble, build and also give us defensive solidity.” In short, Musah should play further forward to provide intensity, Reijnders ahead of Thiaw and Tomori to guarantee dribbling.
If just one word was needed to understand which match Pioli has in mind, try with balance. “We have to pay a lot of attention because when Borussia often defends they lose 3-4 players who stay above the line of the ball. On the one hand, they are very fast players, so we will have to be good at shortening and losing few balls. On the other hand, it means that they will have few players under the ball and this will influence our choices.” So pay attention to transitions: whoever steals the ball and restarts better wins. Then a general look: “The matches must be played with the right mentality, it is clear that Borussia-Milan will be important for the development of the group but there are still four rounds to go, so 12 points.” In short, “important but not decisive”.
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Rafa Leao as always attracts attention, questions, controversies. In the morning his imitation of Okafor made him smile and yes, Pioli must have been pleased: “Rafa is always carefree, like most of my players – he says -. It’s our way of working, absolute seriousness and lightheartedness, we must continue like this.” And on TV: “All matches must belong to Leao and Milan. Everyone must work and collaborate, then we make ourselves available to players with more quality. Rafa will give his all.” Other singles? Well, Pioli spoke briefly about Pulisic, who is a former player here (“He will play his 50th match in the Champions League, he is experienced, he is strong, he will give his best”) and rejected a question about Theo Hernandez being far from his best version: “ I don’t agree, it’s doing good for me. I spoke to him this morning. About what? The position he will have to hold when we have the ball, he will have to be good at exploiting the spaces.”
October 3, 2023 (modified October 3, 2023 | 7:43 pm)
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