Milan showed strength in depth in Venezia win - Pioli

By Sports Desk September 22, 2021

Stefano Pioli felt Milan demonstrated their strength in depth in a 2-0 Serie A victory over Venezia at San Siro.

Pioli rung the changes following the draw with Juventus on Sunday, with Fode Ballo-Toure coming into a new-look defence for his first start.

The Rossoneri dominated possession but did not register a shot on target until Brahim Díaz turned in a first-time cross from substitute Theo Hernandez midway through the second half.

Marauding full-back Hernandez, who came on along with Fikayo Tomori and Alexis Saelemaekers just before the hour-mark, doubled Milan's advantage eight minutes from time as they moved level on points with leaders and fierce rivals Inter.

It had been a frustrating evening for Milan until Diaz struck with his third goal of the season but Pioli believes they showed the progress they have made, with key men absent once again.

The Milan head coach said: "The team broke [Venezia down] by playing a game with intelligence and clarity, continuing to push and create. We have more than one quality player and they are used to win games."

He added: "I disagree that we were not brilliant in the first half, just a little bit of quality was lacking. I am not surprised by the players who have not played much so far, they are all strong.

"Importantly, it means that the team is there and is fine, they believe in it [his approach] and play. We are only at the beginning, I have a very deep squad, apart from a few too many injuries at the moment. They are all players who can help the team."

Pioli knows there is plenty of room for improvement after his side made it four wins out of five games without defeat in Serie A this season.

"In the first half we lacked precision but we managed it in the second half playing with intensity and attention," he said.

"In many things you can improve. All the matches give us interesting ideas, there are many situations where we can grow "

Pioli revealed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Olivier Giroud and Simon Kjaer are making progress with their recoveries from injury, but he is unsure if they will be fit to face Spezia on Saturday.

Hernandez became the first Milan defender to have both scored and delivered an assist in a Serie A game since Opta collected such data (2004-05), finding the back of the net with a sweet strike.

Related items

  • Maddison makes England case again, missing World Cup 'a shame for the country' Maddison makes England case again, missing World Cup 'a shame for the country'

    James Maddison not going to the World Cup with England would be "a shame for the country", said Brendan Rodgers after the Leicester City midfielder scored another two goals on Monday.

    Maddison's continued absence from Gareth Southgate's Three Lions squad has been the source of some contention.

    The 25-year-old has earned only a single England cap, in November 2019, and appears to face an uphill battle to gain favour with Southgate before Qatar 2022 kicks off next month.

    Yet Maddison has started the Premier League season in outstanding form. After scoring two and assisting another in Leicester's 4-0 win over fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest, he has seven goal involvements in seven appearances.

    Going back to the start of the previous campaign, Southgate's captain Harry Kane is the only English player with more Premier League goals (24) or goal involvements (34) than Maddison (17 goals, 10 assists).

    "It's such a shame for the country and for James himself," manager Rodgers told Sky Sports. "You see his talent, and his performance level for the last 18 months I think everybody is clear on.

    "I think it's only Harry Kane who has created and scored more goals than him, so to not even be in the squad...

    "Even if he's not going to start, to have a player of that quality and not only in that, in international football, to have the personality to take the ball, be creative, take the ball and change the game, James is all of that. He's an absolutely brilliant player.

    "I really hope over these next few months he can continue the form he's shown for 18 months and somehow get into the team, because if you're wanting creativity, you're wanting personality – he's improved his defensive side of his game, and he can play in a couple of positions.

    "For me, he's an absolutely outstanding player, and he's up there.

    "I love Phil Foden, Mason Mount, those boys who play there – Jack Grealish is different, Jack plays from the side – but Madders can play in a number of positions to a high level, and he showed that tonight."

    Maddison, who said suggestions he would not be a good character within the group if not starting were "insulting", added: "It's been a weird position for me.

    "We [Leicester] have been bottom of the league, and results have not been going our way, but I've almost been as confident as I've ever been in my career.

    "I don't remember over the last 12 months playing better than I have and feeling as well as I have.

    "It's obviously hard to answer this question [on his England hopes], because you want to say the right thing, you don't want to say the wrong thing, but that's an ambition of mine, a goal of mine.

    "I'm a football man, I watch all the games, I watch international football, and an opportunity at that level would be something I desire. I almost know I'd have an impact.

    "It's one I hope will come my way at some point."

  • Former Argentina forward Higuain confirms retirement at end of MLS season Former Argentina forward Higuain confirms retirement at end of MLS season

    Gonzalo Higuain will retire from professional football at the end of the 2022 MLS season, he announced on Monday.

    The veteran striker, a 75-cap former Argentina international who was a member of the squad that came second at the 2014 World Cup, will bring the curtain down on a glittering 17-year career.

    Higuain played over 100 games for each of Real Madrid, Napoli and Juventus, having began his playing days with River Plate, while he also had brief spells with Milan and Chelsea before joining Inter Miami.

    A six-time domestic league champion – with three LaLiga crowns and three Serie A triumphs – he signed for the MLS club in September 2020.

    Higuain has been in top form for Miami in the second half of this season, scoring 12 goals and assisting a further two in the past 14 games.

    Phil Neville's side are seventh in the Eastern Conference, clinging to the final playoff place with two games of the regular season remaining.

    Victories over Orlando City on Wednesday and CF Montreal on Sunday would extend Miami's season and Higuain's career.

  • Jamaica's Reggae Girlz to host Paraguay for two international friendlies November 10 and 13 Jamaica's Reggae Girlz to host Paraguay for two international friendlies November 10 and 13

    Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz are set to play Paraguay in two international friendlies next month as they continue preparations for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.