Antonio Conte knows Milan “want to prove they are as strong” as Juventus, shakes off ‘provincial’ thinking and explains it’s hard work being a great motivator.
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Today Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani said his team is “not inferior to Juve,” and Conte does not entirely disagree.
“He is right, but the strongest squad on paper doesn’t always win. The statistics and history books tell us in the last two years the Rossoneri didn’t happen to win,” said the Coach.
It has been said that Juventus are eager to beat Milan in order to force them into a Champions League preliminary round or potentially even kick them down to the Europa League.
“Our only motivation is to earn the three points so we can get even closer to the Scudetto. We have no pleasure in making Milan finish third, as it is provincial to think about your opponents that way. We must look only at our own situation.
“It won’t be easy to win, as Milan are as strong as we are and want to prove it. They are working well, because it wasn’t easy to rebuild and replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva.”
Milan won the last Serie A meeting 1-0 earlier this season with an incorrectly-awarded penalty.
“It was a very strange game, as Milan weren’t coming from a great period of form and it was decided by a dubious incident. They attacked us from the start and we reacted too late, so deserved to lose. That match sparked Milan’s rebirth.
“Against Lazio I felt it important to use all four midfielders and the 3-5-1-1 system is the only one that allows that. A good Coach adapts his ideas to the players at his disposal. If I wanted to return to my old 4-2-4 system, then I’d have to revamp the squad and get players suited to that shape.
“It is not important how many strikers you have on the field, but how many players you get into the opposition penalty area. I changed the 4-2-4 originally because Arturo Vidal was so good he couldn’t be dropped. I am in a similar situation now with Paul Pogba.
“Giorgio Chiellini trained with the side yesterday and seems to be in decent shape. We’ll see, but if he is fit then obviously Chiellini will play. He is an exceptional defender and if he’s fit then I very rarely leave him out.”
Andrea Pirlo is releasing his autobiography in which he reveals Conte often throws plastic water bottles at the locker room wall at half-time, even when they are winning.
“It is true, I sometimes get angry even during a victory. If there are constructive and convincing victories, then I’m happy. At times a win arrives with luck or other people’s mistakes, so those results leave you with three points, but also regret and anger.
“If a Coach were to be happy in these situations, then it would be bad for the team, because it’d prepare them for other defeats.
“A Coach in the 21st Century cannot be wrapped up only in tactical discussions, but must also be a motivator. He has to press the right buttons and find the best way to confront every individual. Some players might need a nice compliment, while others have to be challenged with toughness.
“It is not easy to get inside the mind of every player, considering a squad has at least 25. A good Coach spends his time studying and keeping up to date with every aspect, because he wants to become the best.
“Every Coach has his own mentality. I hope that mine is a winning mentality. The statistics and our consistency suggest that is the case.”
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