Pioli: ‘Roma-Milan for Champions League’

Stefano Pioli acknowledges Milan need to get back on track in a ‘head-to-head for the Champions League places’ with Roma, but their tactical approach won’t change.

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“Roma are a team with many attacking options. Edin Dzeko had been playing well, but Roma will be dangerous even without him. We need to counter their attacking strength with great solidity,” said Pioli in his press conference.

“The table says this is a head-to-head for the Champions League places. There were fewer teams fighting for the top four last season, but this time they’re all up there.

“It’s a six-pointer, the next three weeks are going to see us playing constantly, so it’s the moment to push on the accelerator and test ourselves.”

The Rossoneri have lost more games in 2021 than throughout all of 2020, but Pioli isn’t ready to press the panic button.

“Milan’s tactical concepts must not change. We respect our opponents, we’ll try to limit them, but above all focus on our own strengths.

“We might change a few positions, but we are on a very clear path as a team. We are trying to become a winning team, and winners try new solutions, they don’t get hung up on defeats.

“The only game where we didn’t create scoring opportunities was Spezia. We do have to get back to spending more time in the opposition half, that is one of the main objectives tomorrow, because it gives us a better chance of scoring and we’re less likely to concede.”

Pioli was asked if it was frustrating to be doubted after a few poor results, having done so much to turn Milan around.

“It’s perfectly normal. We were praised so much, so we are justly criticised for not being up to the same level. Nothing changes within the locker room, we have the same motivation and know that from March onwards, that’s when everything is decided.

“We want to be protagonists to the end and criticism will help us give something more. We didn’t get too over-excited when we were doing well and won’t get too depressed now.”

Alessio Romagnoli has been criticised by fans and media for his recent performances.

“I don’t think we should be seeking scapegoats. It can happen that a player isn’t at 100 per cent when he’s played so much. I don’t believe it’s a physical issue, we need to stop misplacing so many passes and give more passing options.

“Our journey started in January 2020. We have specific qualities and strong players, so we build on that to get back to being a winning team. We need to raise the intensity level and be more determined, that’s the key to everything.”

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