Pioli calls on Milan to 'turn into winners' ahead of decisive Inter and Napoli clashes

By Sports Desk February 28, 2022

Stefano Pioli called for Milan to "turn into winners" and battle through an underwhelming run of form ahead of crucial clashes with Inter and Napoli.

The Rossoneri sit level on points with Serie A leaders Napoli, who required a last-gasp winner against Lazio on Sunday, after being held in consecutive games by strugglers Salernitana and Udinese.

Pioli's side are two points ahead of Inter, who they face in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final tie on Tuesday, but the Nerazzurri boast a game in hand on both their fellow title contenders.

Ahead of what is likely to be a pivotal week, Pioli demanded improvements from his team, though he insisted Milan can only focus on the future from now on.

"It's only the first leg, but it's an important step. The help from our fans will be decisive," Pili said at Monday's pre-match news conference ahead of the cup meeting with Inter.

"We are in the decisive moment of the season. We've done an extraordinary path in the last two and a half years, but only what we'll do from tomorrow will count.

"We can be better than in the last two games. We've done a lot and it's time to reap the rewards. It's the last step, the most difficult one, which is turning into winners."

While stressing the importance of improving sooner rather than later, Pioli acknowledged that there still remains a healthy portion of the season left to play as the title race continues to ebb and flow.

"The table is telling that this is a balanced league, it's a difficult season for everybody and there are no favourites in the derby," he added.

"Those who win the most duels will have more chances to win. It's an important week, but not decisive. There is a second leg in Coppa Italia and there will be 10 more Serie A games after the match with Napoli."

Pioli also did not hide away from his side's recent struggles, after they recorded consecutive top-flight draws for the first time since December 2020.

"Numbers do not lie. We've had difficulties," Pioli continued.

"We were not able to kill the games off and we should have kept more control. Anything can happen when you defend deep, we must be more aggressive when we do not have the ball.

"We do well when we go at full pace, but we must improve handling certain situations, especially when the opponents are waiting for us. 

"We have analysed what didn't work and we are ready to put what we've learned into practice."

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri previously suggested that 85 points will be required to win the Scudetto, and Pioli does not think his fellow boss was too far off the mark.

"The top five teams are in the race for the title and a Champions League spot," he responded when asked about the title race.

"Everyone has slowed down a little, 11 games are remaining and every game will be difficult. Surely more than 80 points will be needed."

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    In 87 Serie A games, he has committed just one error leading to a goal, yet Legrottaglie has not been wholly convinced by De Ligt.

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    Legrottaglie, who also played for Italy, believes there are plenty of admirable elements about De Ligt's game.

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    Costacurta also expects Juventus to be back in the title mix after they finished fourth in consecutive Serie A seasons, but claims the return of Federico Chiesa, who sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury in January, is more important to their prospects than the potential arrival of Paul Pogba.  

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