Milan coach Stefano Pioli won’t compare Milan to Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City ahead of a Sampdoria trip. ‘We’re only at the beginning.’
It kicks off on Sunday at 19.45 GMT, click here for a match preview.
“This is going to be a difficult game, as Sampdoria have some very good players. We must be sharp and tactically precise,” said the coach in his press conference.
“It’ll be nice to see Antonio Candreva and Claudio Ranieri again, always friends and opponents for just 90 minutes. Ranieri was a very important coach for me and he already gave me clear ideas on what I wanted to do when I retired as a player. I admire him a great deal.
“I cheered on his Leicester City when they won the Premier League, which was an incredible achievement.”
Pioli was asked if Milan leading the Serie A table could be compared to Leicester’s Premier League coup.
“I’m not saying the Leicester achievement can never be repeated, because it happened with Hellas Verona and Sampdoria winning league titles, but I continue to warn we are only at the beginning and have to keep taking it one game at a time.
“You cannot achieve success without sacrifice. I ask my players to be determined and keep this approach to every match. One of our great strengths is that we are balanced, whereas in football there’s a tendency to go too far in either a positive or negative direction.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic revealed to Sky Sport Italia that he had told Milan he would retire in the summer of 2020, but Pioli convinced him to change his mind.
“I try to be direct with every player,” said the coach. “When you speak from the heart, it’s more likely people will listen to you.
“I told Zlatan that considering what we’d started, it wasn’t right to interrupt it now. I told him to think carefully, because I, Paolo Maldini, Ricky Massara and Ivan Gazidis would do everything possible to convince him. We’re very happy that he is here.”
Ibrahimovic, Rafael Leao and Simon Kjaer are out of tomorrow’s match with Sampdoria due to injury, while Mateo Musacchio isn’t ready yet either.
“Jens Hauge has strength, quality, is good at one-on-one situations and is very intelligent. He is proving himself useful for the team.
“I have always been convinced of the quality of these players. We haven’t won anything yet, there’s a lot of work to do, but we’re hungry and want to be ambitious.”