Pioli insists Milan cannot obsess over the past in 'strange' Serie A season

By Sports Desk March 11, 2022

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli insisted that his side cannot be "obsessed with the past" as they battle to win Serie A, which no team has "managed to run away".

The Rossoneri climbed back to the summit with a 1-0 victory at fellow title contenders Napoli last time out, but could be leapfrogged by second-placed Inter, who have a game in hand.

Milan next host Empoli, who they have won their past two top-flight meetings against, and Pioli demanded his team take each game as it comes ahead of the clash on Saturday.

However, Pioli's men have won only two of their past six Serie A meetings with sides in the bottom half of the table, drawing their previous two against Salernitana and Udinese.

"We are satisfied, but it was not the final step," Pioli said of the win over Napoli at Friday's pre-match news conference. "The last step is the next game.

"We should not be obsessed with the past, every game is different. We must play with continuity, quality and rhythm to highlight our qualities.

"It's been a strange season. Nobody has managed to run away. I still think that the top five teams can win many games. Serie A is very difficult."

 

When asked if he was concerned about the run of Juventus, who are unbeaten in 14 Serie A games and sit just seven adrift of the leaders, Pioli responded: "I am concerned about Empoli, we saw what happened in the reverse fixture, they created problems for us, so we must play well.

"Players don't need my intervention to know how important tomorrow's game is. The experience of the past was useful, but we should not look back.

"Empoli are a dynamic squad. It's not easy to press them, we need to understand the right moment. Psychologically, we know which problems we'll face, but we are determined.

"Empoli are a team with many solutions up top. They have quality and are really close to reaching their target so compliments to them."

Olivier Giroud was the difference against Napoli, with his eighth league goal separating the two title challengers. The striker will now be aiming to become the third Frenchman in Serie A to score 10-plus goals in a single campaign for Milan, after Jean-Pierre Papin (13 goals in 1992/93) and Jeremy Menez (16 in 2014/15).

Pioli was also boosted by the return of the evergreen Zlatan Ibrahimovic against Luciano Spalletti's men and he spoke glowingly of his two veteran forwards.

"I like everything about Giroud, the way he helps the team, how he handles the pressure," he added. "He is a very serene and determined person and it's a pleasure to work with him.

"Zlatan gives a lot to the team in everything he does. He is a smart player. He knows when to attack the space or drop deep. He is feeling happy. Surely he will help us."

Related items

  • Slumping D-backs turn to Dallas Keuchel for start against Tigers Slumping D-backs turn to Dallas Keuchel for start against Tigers

    The sputtering Arizona Diamondbacks are in need of a spark and hope a former Cy Young Award winner can ignite it.

    Hoping to shake off a horrendous start to the season, Dallas Keuchel will make his Diamondbacks debut and try to help Arizona end a five-game losing streak in Sunday's series finale with the Detroit Tigers.

    The 34-year-old left-hander signed a minor league contract with the Diamondbacks on June 6 following a desperate start to the season by the Chicago White Sox leading to his release.

    The move to Arizona reunited him with pitching coach Brent Strom, who worked with Keuchel in 2015 when he won the AL Cy Young Award with the Houston Astros while going 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA.

    The Diamondbacks are hopeful Keuchel can replicate the success he had with the Astros as opposed to the way he was knocked around with the White Sox over this season's first two months.

    In eight starts for Chicago this season, Keuchel went 2-5 with a 7.88 ERA, permitting 49 hits and 20 walks in just 32 innings.

    Among the 208 players with at least 30 innings pitched this season, Keuchel's 2.16 WHIP is the worst in the majors.

    Prior to being called up by the Diamondbacks, he went 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts in the Arizona Complex League.

  • 'I've never seen real leadership from him' – Legrottaglie questions whether Juventus should fight for De Ligt 'I've never seen real leadership from him' – Legrottaglie questions whether Juventus should fight for De Ligt

    Matthijs de Ligt has never shown "real leadership" with Juventus and the club might do well to offload him, according to former Bianconeri defender Nicola Legrottaglie.

    The Netherlands centre-back is under contract at the Allianz Stadium until June 2024, but could soon be on the move after three years in Italy.

    Chelsea have been linked with a move for the 22-year-old, who has been a regular in the heart of the Juventus defence since arriving from Ajax for €85.5million in July 2019.

    The centre-half has racked up 117 appearances across all competitions, scoring eight goals, and winning the Serie A title during his first season.

    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.

    With the Chelsea rumour now circling, Legrottaglie said: "If the boy was really convinced he wanted to leave, I don't know how much it would be better for Juventus to keep him at home against his will."

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

    "In terms of characteristics, I have always liked the player," Legrottaglie told Tuttojuve.com. "I believe, however, that he has never really immersed himself into the environment.

    "I have never seen real leadership from him; from the outside, he has been perceived as a bit separate from the group. Let's say he didn't do everything to make himself loved."

    De Ligt remarked that Torino centre-back Gleison Bremer and Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly might have the attributes to bolster the Juventus defence, after back-to-back fourth-placed finishes in Serie A.

    He also pointed to the likely high cost of such players, and said: "It is not certain that with a great champion you necessarily do better, especially in defence. What counts is the work of the department, which often makes up for the quality of the individual."

    Speaking in early June to Dutch outlet NOS, De Ligt said talks about his Juventus future had been taking place, adding: "When the time comes, I will decide whether I will extend or whether I want to look further.

    "I always look at what is best for myself in terms of the sporting project. Fourth place twice in a row is not good enough; we will have to make steps in that direction."

  • Stanley Cup: Brayden Point set to miss Game 6, 'you never know' for Game 7 Stanley Cup: Brayden Point set to miss Game 6, 'you never know' for Game 7

    The two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning will once again try to stave off elimination without Brayden Point.

    Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Point skated on Sunday prior to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Colorado Avalanche but also mentioned he does not plan on changing his lineup, meaning Point will miss a fourth straight game.

    The Avalanche lead the series 3-2 and are one victory away from winning their first Stanley Cup since 2001.

    "It's unfortunate because it's a severe injury," Cooper said. "At this time of the year, everybody's trying to get back into the lineup and just there are some things you can't do.

    "When you can't do what you're used to doing, it's tough on a player."

    Point, the Lightning's leading scorer during each of the team's Cup runs over the last two seasons, suffered a lower-body injury in Game 7 of Tampa Bay's first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    He missed the next two rounds before returning for Games 1 and 2 of the Final series but was clearly limited with one total shot in the two games and has been out of the lineup since.

    "It's extremely difficult for everyone involved because everyone cares so much. But there's no animosity or anything like that. They're just difficult conversations because everybody wants the same thing," Cooper said.

    Point has been sorely missed on the power play, as the Lightning have gone just five-for-38 (13.2 per cent) with the extra skater in their past 13 games.

    If Tampa can defend home ice on Sunday and force a Game 7, however, Cooper did not rule out Point returning for Tuesday in Denver. 

    "He's still plugging along here and rehabbing and trying to get better. Who knows? If the series goes one more game, you never know," Cooper said.

    "It's tough on these guys because they're such competitors."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.