Pioli: “Mourinho is shrewd and cunning. A great communicator. We need to step up our game in direct confrontations”

Stefano Pioli, coach of Milan, has addressed the media ahead of their clash with Roma.

Pioli underscored his team’s need to improve upon their first-round performance, stating, “We need to aim to improve the first leg. I believe this would guarantee us third place, but if we want to aspire to something more, we need to really improve a lot.”

Following a question about a post-match team meeting after their game against Atalanta, Pioli said, “There was a meeting, which I felt was ultimately productive for our future planning. We faced another disappointment, but we must transform it into great energy to redeem ourselves immediately.”

Milan’s coach revealed that defender Theo could return to his usual position on the pitch, saying, “Theo has performed very well in the centre and has been effective in both defence and attack. I will decide on the line-up tomorrow, but Theo will definitely be on the pitch.”

When asked about Roma coach José Mourinho’s claim that Milan is title-worthy, he responded, “Mourinho is a top manager, he is clever and crafty. He always praises his opponents before certain matches.”

On the topic of referee Rocchi’s recent comments, Pioli expressed his agreement, and called for a more serene and respectful environment in football. “We all need to lower our voices. Comparisons should be respectful and serene. If anyone from the professionals makes a mistake, they should be punished harshly. On the other hand, I ask for more uniformity and consistency in officiating.”

Looking ahead at the upcoming clash with Roma, Pioli described them as being “organised and good at set pieces” and stressed the need for a great performance.

In light of conceding numerous goals recently, Pioli has emphasised the objective for players to improve their defending during the game, saying, “Our greatest fault lies in the number of goals we have conceded and this must be the players’ objective: everyone needs to defend better, be more organised and collaborative.”

Lastly, commenting on the statistical results of the first leg, he hints at the importance of maintaining high performance during key matches, saying, “There are no coincidences in our results from the first half; in head-to-head matches a high level is required because the values are there, if you drop in quality…”.

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