“It’s a strong Milan, the pitch will determine if we will be more or less like last year. I saw the same eyes and spirit in my players as last year: it makes me positive.”
On the attack:
“The newcomers, Divock, Charles and Yacine, give me good sensations. They have good characteristics, we have completed the attacking department. Origi seems to me like a complete striker, he knows how to give us depth and knows how to communicate with his teammates. He will give us satisfaction, he is very intelligent like Adli and De Ketelaere. We will have to give him time to get used to but I am very happy with what they are showing.”
Pioli on who convinced him more:
“If we want to name names, surely Messias, Rebic and Bennacer: they were the most continuous. I saw the desire to work and compete in all of them to show that they can be chosen by the coach. Football is evolving quickly. Now friendlies also count and above all the first league match. Udinese is a difficult, organized, physical team. They are the only team that last year, together with Juventus, we were unable to beat: this is why we prepared well.”
On the season prediction and bookmakers:
“We never worried about what is said about us outside Milanello. We want to be competitive, we will have many competitions to try to win: we will have to prove it starting from tomorrow.”
On the World Cup in November:
“A particular season, the most unique in this development and context. Today I showed the team the whole calendar from today to November 13: 23-24 matches. It will take an incredible effort. It is a particular championship, in three months we already play a lot, between the championship and the Champions League. For the preparation we did everything we set out to do and the players responded well, apart from Sandro with that setback They are all fine. It will be a balanced championship, it will be difficult to surpass last year’s score. The mid-table teams have grown so much, there are many teams that want to win: it will be a good fight.”
Did you expect something else from the mercato?
“I am very happy with the team, the players and the club: if the opportunity arises, they will be ready.”
Pioli on if Brahim Diaz should be starter tomorrow against Udinese:
“If Brahim were to play it will be because I think he is better than the others in this match, he has more pace than the other two at the moment. Charles has had a preparation so-so for all the reasons we know. In that position they must show me that they can be starters in every training session. But, all three can also play in other positions.”
Did you hear from the club ownership and management?
“The management is always present, Paolo, Ricky and Ivan are always here and make us feel protected. I have heard from both (Gerry) Cardinale and Elliott who wished the team good luck.”
On the motivations:
“We will have to move very well without the ball, they are a physical team. If we do not take away their references it is clear that we will find difficulties. We will have to play a great game without the ball with the compactness that allows us to play in their half.”
Can Charles De Ketelaere and Yacine Adli play together?
“All talented, willing and intelligent players can play together.”
Pioli on the tight schedule:
“”It will be an anomalous season, the World Cup in that period creates difficulties there. I am curious to face this championship, I believe that for the players who do not go to the world championship would be in a good situation. For those who go to Qatar and compete to win it will be a season more complicated to manage, and it will be necessary to understand how to make them recover.”
On Pierre Kalulu:
“I expect a confirmation of the performances he made, he was one of the players who grew the most. He has always been a hard worker, he has always worked with humility. I have no worries about his attitudes and performances, he is a guy with his head on his shoulders. The things he did he deserved with hard work and he knows he has to continue like this. If we managed to defend so well we owe it to the attacking players too.”
Is AC Milan’s left flank the strongest in the world now?
“I don’t know, but that if we are of the highest level? Then yes. (Ante) Rebic and (Fodé) Ballo-Touré can be too…”
On the corner kicks:
“We have made a better proposal to the players. It is not just the centimeters or who goes to kick, it is a question of attitude and determination. We expect results. Maybe we need to be smarter.”