The Rossoneri coach talks about the match against Atalanta: “An important match for the Champions League zone”
A question of benches, and they all happily concern Pioli. One is a trophy and it’s the gold one, given to him at the beginning of the week in Coverciano. Particularly welcome recognition because it was generated by the vote of colleagues. The others are enclosed in a very round number, or 800 games as a coach. Pioli will join them tomorrow evening with Atalanta and, in short, the figure is decidedly considerable. However, the luxurious personal goals go well with the good news from the infirmary: five months later, we will meet again in Campo Maignan. It is Pioli himself who announces it and the scent of liberation is in the air.
But in general it’s a good moment that all of his Milan is back to life. Three victories in the last three outings, without generosity in the goal area but with the great comfort of not having conceded goals. Considering that in the previous four games the Devil had collected thirteen, there is reason to rejoice. “The difficult moment is gone, I know the team and I see them – assures the coach -. We have never won four games in a row this year, this is also a small big goal”. Rather, it will be necessary to change gears with the direct competitors for Europe: Milan have collected only one point in the last four matches against teams that occupied the top six positions in the standings (the last victory was the first leg derby at the beginning of September), and at the end of the championship being ahead in direct clashes – given the European tussle – could prove vital. “Atalanta have all the makings of a great team. It’s always been an open game, but we’re good with our heads and legs, and we want to try and be masters of the game. Among other things, with Hojlund we find a center forward that is different from the last ones faced, he’s one who is also very good in depth. The standings are very short, it will be an opportunity to extend the Nerazzurri’s lead.”
Rhythm and positions
The latest bulletin released by Pioli says that “Ibra is getting better and better and now he’s ready to play, Calabria and Bennacer will be recoverable for Florence, as well as Florenzi”. And then, that sweet sentence: “Maignan is fine and will play”. Obviously, after the long-awaited news, there is also room for reflection: “Mike was a lion in a cage because he couldn’t play, he couldn’t give advice. Now he has this possibility, he is very motivated and will give us a great contribution. He was the best goalkeeper last season, he gives us a lot in many situations, he is a very communicative goalkeeper and this is an important thing. In construction he knows how to vary his plays, he knows how to make the right choices. He is mentally and physically well but does not play for five months and therefore he will have to regain his rhythm and positions”. The position also seems to be a problem for Leao, who in the 3-4-2-1 sometimes gives the impression of being less involved. “If it’s a formation that penalizes him? It would be wrong for a coach to set up a new game system with one of the most important players who is not tactically happy. He, on the other hand, is very happy, and then he has a lot of freedom regardless of the formation, also because he often does what your intuition tells you”.
Goal a thousand
Pioli then puts his hand on fire also for De Ketelaere. His words full of hope. “I’ve talked a lot with Charles since he arrived, he’s fitting into an overall system different from the one he knew and never as in the last few weeks have I seen him so convinced and determined, mentally and physically. He’s not just a good guy, he’ll make it I imagine his first goal was lucky, and then everything will be easier from there.” Him closure on himself and the goal of 800 games. He closes with a decidedly relevant programmatic manifesto: “I’m crossing a good finish line, 800 benches are a lot but I’d like to reach 1,000 as a Milan coach. It won’t be easy, but that’s the goal.”
February 25, 2023 (change February 25, 2023 | 15:28)
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