Sunday October 25 2020
Pioli: ‘Roma similar to Milan’

Stefano Pioli says Roma are similar to Milan and insists he is not worried about Gigio Donnarumma's contract extension.

"We started well and we want to continue doing so,” Pioli said ahead of Monday's home clash against Roma.

“We face strong opponents that look a bit like Milan in their construction.

“They have signed strong players, it is a team with physical strength and with all the right components to be an ambitious team. It will be an open game.”

Milan are the table leaders in Serie A with four wins from the opening four games.

“It’s just the beginning of the season and tomorrow we have an important game," said Pioli.

“After criticisms we only thought about working, now we have to do the same even if we receive compliments. I asked the team to give even more to become really ambitious. It’s good that expectations have risen.

“We need to better understand the moments of the game, when we need to raise the pace or when we need to keep the ball possession. Our growth will come with time but it must be continuous and constant."

Pioli, however, doesn't think about the Scudetto yet.

“Our goal is to overcome all the teams that last were in front of us last year. There was a big gap in terms of points last season. Now we think about improving that and overcoming Roma and Atalanta. One step at a time, one match at a time. Now our opponent is Roma and we think only of Roma.

“We’re going to try to approach the game well and with determination. We have to face a technically high-level game. We’ll try to limit [Edin] Dzeko.

“We have to give everything, then we will evaluate the positive and negative things, we have to think about our path and think of every single game as the most important one.”

Pioli rotated many of his players in the Diavoli’s 3-1 win over Celtic in Europa League earlier this week including Rade Krunic who scored his first ever goal with the Rossoneri and Sandro Tonali. 

"I think Krunic can play both in the middle of the pitch but also as an offensive midfielder. He can be our trequartista, he must work hard and learn how to attack the spaces when Ibra comes between the lines. Krunic has these qualities and I’m happy for the goal because it was a situation that we tried in training.

"Tonali's start wasn't easy against Celtic but then he improved. Heis still looking for the best condition. He needs some time but he is a strong and mature player and I am sure he can be a starter of this team.

“It was important to raise the competitiveness within the team, we signed young and strong players, players who can raise the level, the club deserves the praise for that.”

On Monday evening the Rossoneri will have to do without Ante Rebic and, probably, Hakan Calhanoglu.

“They are feeling better but I think it will be difficult [to recover them] for tomorrow, Rebic definitely not,” Pioli revealed.

“Our identity is pretty clear, for newcomers it is easy to understand how to move around the field. I honestly see only positive aspects of having five subs. I think to deploy the  best eleven for the start of the game, the preparation to the match is the most important aspect of my work.

"Now it’s more complicated because we do it every two days, I like to think that having five substitutions allow me to change features and games.  As long as they give us to go with 23 players I think it’s the right thing to take advantage of all the players available.”

Despite Gigio Donnarumma’s contract expiring in June, Pioli says he is not worried about the player’s future at the club.

“I had only faced him as an opponent [before joining Milan] and I could only appreciate his technical qualities [once I arrived]. I found a guy older than his age.

“In my experience his growth has been continuous, he is growing in everything he does, from nutrition to attention to detail, he is already at a the highest levels but he has many room for improvement.

“I’m very pleased with his approach. I am not worried about the future because as long as I see players so focused and positive I am calm and I know that the club is working in a certain direction".