Stefano Pioli warns Milan ‘are gambling with everything over the next 40 days,’ starting with a trip to Lecce. ‘We have 12 games left to capture a place in Europe.’
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“If the season had ended with the lockdown, it would’ve been one of regrets, but instead we have 12 games left to capture a place in Europe,” said the coach in his press conference.
There had also been the Coppa Italia route, but they lost the semi-final to Juventus on away goals, the trophy eventually going to Napoli.
“We’ve got some ground to catch up on and we need to do it as soon as possible, because in the space of 40 days, we are gambling with everything. We might’ve deserved different results in some games, but that just means we’re lacking in some areas. If you don’t win, you learn, so I hope we learned a lot of valuable lessons.
“Inevitably, this feels like a different season after a three-month gap, but the squad is concentrated and motivated. We cared a lot about the Coppa Italia, so it was disappointing to go out like that, but we pushed them until the end. The biggest regrets are about the first leg, partly our own errors and partly some refereeing decisions.”
During the lockdown, Milan have been reportedly carrying on negotiations with Ralf Rangnick to take over as coach and director of sport next season.
“We are professionals and we cannot get distracted, as we have an objective to chase. Our position in the table does not reflect our quality and we have the chance to prove that,” replied Pioli.
“Those who have to make the decisions will then decide. All coaches are in the same boat, we live and die on results. We’re not in Europe right now and anything could change in the next 40 days. It’d be a pity to end the season in this position, we don’t have an easy run-in, but we’ve shown that we can fight it out with the teams ahead of us in the table.”
Milan go into the Lecce game without injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mateo Musacchio and Leo Duarte, with Pioli confessing “the season is probably already over for Musacchio.”
Theo Hernandez and Samu Castillejo were suspended for the Coppa Italia against Juventus, so they return to the fold.
“We aren’t the fourth worst strike force in Serie A because we didn’t create chances, but because we don’t convert enough of them. That is where we must improve.
“Of course I want more from Rafael Leao and so should he, as he ought to be more aware of his potential.”
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