Stefano Pioli spoke during the press conference ahead of the match of Benevento - AC Milan. Here are his words:
On the match tomorrow versus Benevento: "Beyond the numbers, we will find a team that is playing good football. They are achieving important results and they are also well trained. We must approach the game well and play as AC Milan."
What has chanced since last year?
Pioli: "We started building last year. Now, we have laid the foundations. We must have the motivation to continue to grow further. We must be willing to take on every challenge with an intent to win."
What are the steps in 2021 that Milan must take?
Pioli: "In my head, I have the small goal of Benevento tomorrow. The year of 2020 was a good one for the squad because everyone made their maximum potential available to the team. We start the new year with the same enthusiasm and courage. We have to be well-prepared."
Update on the injured players?
Pioli: "Castillejo will be the only one called up for the squad tomorrow. Excluding Matteo Gabbia, the others have muscle injuries. They are focused and are feeling fine. It is difficult to give a right timing or a prediction."
How do you rate Sandro Tonali so far?
Pioli: "He is growing well. He needed time to understand movements on the pitch. But there are many things that he can also do better, such as being able to read the defensive phases and also when the ball is in our possession. He is young and gifted. He is also serious and attentive, other improvements will arrive."
What are the risks of the stop?
Pioli: "The break is the same for everyone. We have all finished together, and now we start together. The break helped us. This was a short stop, it can't change much the positives or negatives. We have prepared ourselves well."
Is there a need to reinforce the squad?
Pioli: "The goal is to recover the injured ones. I have the right team players for the next fixtures. The mercato session opens on January 4. The management will be ready if there are any opportunities to take."
You have closed the 2019 year with a loss against Atalanta 5-0
Pioli: "We remembered that game on the eve of the match against Lazio because it was in the same period. We must be always careful, prepared and we must keep the work going. The margin between a loss or a victory is very thin, only the ones who are concentrated win eventually."
Ibrahimovic will feature in Sanremo, any clarifications?
Pioli: "Ibrahimovic is focused a lot more on returning to play on the pitch than Sanremo, and that is the truth. He communicated to the club and I before this became news. He is a professional and will take advantage of this opportunity to show how important he is."
How hard will the match against Benevento will actually be tomorrow?
Pioli: "It will be a tough one because they are a prepared team. They are a motivated group."
What do you have to say about Theo Hernandez' growth with AC Milan?
Pioli: "He was a Real Madrid player so he has a big potential. Everyday, he proves to us that he is growing and that he is a top level player. There is still even more room to improve. He must continue working in this manner."
Any comments on Ibrahimovic and his arrival since last year?
Pioli: "He joined us in a delicate moment, after that heavy loss against Atalanta in Bergamo. He was a godsend. He gave energy that we lacked as a team. In addition, there was also Simon Kjaer and Alexis Saelemaekers then, that mercato period in particular helped us to achieve particular milestones."