SOCCER

Pioli admits Milan have ‘the will’ to sign more players and answers question on De Ketelaere’s role

ADVERTISEMENT

AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli has stressed that Charles De Ketelaere can play anywhere in the attacking midfield and that the club have “the will” to bring in new signings.

ADVERTISEMENT

Milan will be looking to build on the 4-2 home win over Udinese last weekend as they travel to Bergamo to take on Gian Piero Gasperini’s side.

The Dea also got their campaign off to a successful start last weekend, winning all three points at Stadio Luigi Ferraris against Sampdoria thanks to goals from Rafael Toloi and Ademola Lookman.

It is believed that Pioli will play a similar side to the one that started the Udinese clash. Ante Rebic and Brahim Diaz should keep their places after an extremely impressive performance against the Friulians.

Sandro Tonali is set to return to the starting XI after picking up an injury in the opener. Alexis Saelemaekers could enter in attack instead of Junior Messias.

Pioli spoke to reporters during his press conference as reported by Milan News and translated below.

Where can De Ketelaere play? Can he act on the right?
“He did very well in all three areas of attacking midfield, but mainly as a trequartista or second striker. Not as a winger. I think it will be difficult for him to start on the right and if Charles is a trequartista he will play there. He is a very intelligent boy who learns the language and shows his application.

Are you still waiting for something from the market?
“As far as the market is concerned, we have the will, if the situation is good, to improve certain areas. The workforce is solid, Kjaer is approaching 100%. I repeat, if we find something to improve, so much the better, otherwise we are already competitive like that.

Against Udinese we saw consistency, will we see the same thing in Bergamo?
“Last season we know how it went and it created a wealth of experience that we continue with enthusiasm and awareness. We prepared well for the game, Atalanta are a very strong team, we know them well. We are ready to show our way of playing on the pitch.

Playing against Atalanta is always iconic. What does it represent now?
“It’s a stage to grow, to see our performances and each match gives ideas. They changed a few players, but not the frame. They combine organization, intensity and quality. It’s a direct confrontation, an important match which comes early in the calendar and which must be faced in the best possible way.

What can become of Tonali?
“A complete midfielder. He needs experience in certain situations. I found a young man with a lot of humility and a desire to work. He knows that he must continue on this path, he must be ambitious because he has great potential. But he must maintain this desire, this generosity and this feeling of being Milanese. When you play with passion, you can give more.

How similar or different do you imagine tomorrow’s game will be to last time?
“We are up against two teams who know each other well, who are developing proactive and attacking football. In Bergamo, a year ago, we had the ability to move forward immediately. I think it will be a tight game, a great game to play.”

Do you feel like the favorites for the title?
“We have to be an interchangeable team. Tomorrow is the end of the first two normal weeks. We are strong, we must all feel important here, but no one is indispensable. What is essential is the mentality and the work. Favorites? There are 7-8 strong teams. A very balanced championship. One game at a time. We have to continue on our path, think about the next game and work to become more and more competitive.

Is it important to have competitive players?
“The players have to work hard to challenge me. Already the choices for tomorrow will not be easy, but I have to line up the best formation at the start. Then we have a lot of offensive solutions like Origi, Saelemaekers, De Ketelaere, Giroud who is in better shape. We can remain dangerous for the adversaries.

Will the Scudetto winners have to beat the big teams?
“It will be such a balanced championship that it will be difficult to score as many points as last year. Difficulties will come for everyone, even with teams you don’t expect. Whoever is the most consistent in results and performance will win. You have to play with intensity and quality. Direct games are important and last year we won precisely because we scored so many points against the big teams.

How important will Pobega’s full recovery be?
“He has to. He has important characteristics. I bet on it. He is doing better, he had a little problem which made him miss training and tests, but he is ready to be available”.

There was a lot of concentration on the right against Udinese.
“It was a situation dictated more by Udinese and the fact that we are a mature team and tomorrow it will be important to read the game. Running a lot in possession is not a good solution, tomorrow you have to move a lot. Tomorrow Krunic won’t be here because he had a little muscle problem and we’ll see how bad it is.

What is the difference between Messias and Saelemaekers?
“Junior can be better at giving us width and Alexis at going between the lines. It depends on what we need and they are two very capable guys, both ready to play.

How important is Bennacer to this team?
“Bennacer combines quantity and quality, he is a complete and strong player. If we want to build with the two central defenders, they will be more available for construction. It depends on the opponents and what we want to do. Now he and Sandro can read these things.

Isn’t something missing in terms of numbers in midfield?
“Krunic, last year, was our joker. Today we are five. Krunic is for all intents and purposes a midfielder. Bakayoko is fine, he is better.

What personal challenge does Stefano Pioli want to take up with himself?
“I think it has to be part of the ambition of every member of this group to give more. I have important responsibilities in terms of how I train the team and how I motivate them. The level of my communication with them means that I always have to be more direct. We have to work well together to grow. Like the players, I also have to grow and here I feel that I can work harder and harder to achieve the best.

Is it better to opt for a more physical or more technical team?
“Tomorrow we will need everything. First and foremost, quality is what wins you matches. But we must have intensity, mentality and compactness.

How do you live these first matches as champions of Italy?
“We don’t think about it. We think about preparing the matches as well as possible. We are focused on the game. Great concentration and excellent preparation. Because the team is doing well.

ADVERTISEMENT