NEWS
Friday February 21 2020
Pioli remains 'in the present'

Stefano Pioli has claimed Milan “must always have ambitions of success” and confirmed that Hakan Calhanoglu will be back against Fiorentina.

The midfielder had to sit out of the 1-0 win against Torino last time but has recovered from a muscle injury and Pioli could let him try to continue his great form of late.

“He’s fine, he had a slight problem that prevented him from playing against Torino,” Pioli said at a press conference. “He is available to play.”

Milan travel to Fiorentina after one win in their last three League games and are currently tied with Hellas Verona and Parma at sixth in Serie A.

Fiorentina are at 13th and hope to build on a thumping 5-1 win against Sampdoria last time, and Pioli recognises the big changes his former team are going through at the Artemio Franchi this season.

“The Viola are coming from a great win, they are coached well,” he said at a press conference. “But we also come from a positive moment and we must continue like this.

“The ownership has changed, there’s more conviction and enthusiasm. We will be met by a heated atmosphere and we have to play a match worthy of Milan.

He has high hopes for the Rossoneri in the second half of the campaign and has claimed that the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic has made them believe it’s possible.

“We are training well and that’s the truth, here you can breathe the positive air,” he added. “The priority is the present and you can only determine the future by thinking about the present.

“We don’t think about stuff we can’t impact; we don’t have the time nor the energy to think about anything else.

“To have such an example of determination and ambition as Ibra has, it can do us good. If Ibra has become a champion and a unique player, it’s because he is always hungry and wants to improve himself.”

There have been rumours about Milan looking at different coaches for next season, but there has also been talk about Pioli extending his stay beyond the summer.

“It’s pleasing to know that my job has been judged in a positive way,” he said. “I feel that I’m the point of reference for the team. No coach is secure regardless of the results. In the end, the ones who make the decisions will decide.

“But I can’t answer questions about my future on every press conference, let’s focus on the present and see what will happen.”

Mateo Musacchio should be back for the Diavolo this weekend and Pioli reiterates that there was no “case” and said he will return tomorrow.

“No Musacchio case. He felt something in the calf. If he had refused to enter, he would not have been called up. But he will be available tomorrow.”

The coach has revealed that it’s a long way up to the Champions League positions in Serie A and only aims to take more points than the team did during the first half.

“We have to win a lot of games from here to the end, I don’t know what our rivals will be able to do,” he said. “Napoli and Atalanta are in front, yesterday it was Napoli. I can’t answer, the goal is to achieve the maximum we can get.

“We need to have the ambition to always aim for success. Tomorrow will be hard and very difficult, there’s a tough environment. We must claim more points than in the first half.

“If we push hard in the last eight games, then we can see what happens in the last month.”

He confirmed that four players, including Simon Kjaer, will be out against the Viola, but the rest of th squad should be available for the former Viola man.

“[Leo] Duarte, [Rade] Krunic, [Lucas] Biglia and Kjaer will not be called up, the others are doing well and are training hard,” he said. “We can improve our position in the League, 14 games are a lot and we are in a hurry to improve.”

Davide Astori would have turned 33 in January and Pioli said he game against Fiorentina reminded him of his former captain.

“Astori is inside me, I had the honour of knowing him. Since he grew up in Milan, I think he is happy that I went to Milan after my stint at Fiorentina.”

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