Stefano Pioli’s side will face Napoli this evening in a match that could be crucial in the race for the league title this season, with both teams trailing Simone Inzaghi’s Inter by a handful of points.
Looking ahead to tonight’s match, Cafu expects “an intense match because there is a lot at stake, even though we are still halfway through the season. Milan, despite the injuries, are having a good season.
“They were eliminated from the Champions League, but in Serie A they are at the top and can win the Scudetto. Don’t think it will be easy for Milan. On the contrary… I expect a tough match because both teams have had a week to prepare for it.”
Discussing the title race, the two-time World Cup winner expects the Rossoneri to come out on top in the end. “Milan are the favourites. I played Inzaghi in the derby in Rome when we were still playing, he’s become a strong, intelligent coach who studies his opponents a lot.
“He started his career and no one believed in him, but he’s been very good at doing his job slowly with Lazio and growing year after year. Now he can win with Inter, to whom he has given a great game. He deserves a lot of the credit for this first place because he believes in what he does and doesn’t leave anything to chance.”
Cafu thinks highly of Milan coach Pioli, who has turned the club around since his arrival in October 2019. “He has been working at AC Milan for a longer time and he won his confirmation with results. He is the right coach, in the right place and for the right team.
“At Milan it is not easy to obtain the results he is obtaining because the pressure and the expectations are great. Pioli, on the other hand, is doing almost nothing wrong.”
The 51-year-old Brazilian also thought that Luciano Spalletti was doing a good job with Napoli, highlighting that “until recently he was first, but now he has lost a couple of games and is fourth. Nothing has been compromised because he has the team. With all the players healthy, he can have his say until the end”
He was also not concerned about Milan veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s age, noting “age is only a number if the body holds up. Ibra is still at great levels because he is a champion.”
Regarding the departure of talented goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in the summer, Cafu trusted in technical director Paolo Maldini’s decision. “From a distance it is difficult to judge because a contract has not been renewed.
“Milan have certainly lost a great goalkeeper and an excellent midfielder, but they have a great goalkeeper coach like Dida and Maignan is strong. In addition there is Maldini, who is also a phenomenon as a director. I trust Paolo.”
The former Roma defender was less impressed with the Giallorossi’s results this campaign under coach Jose Mourinho. “They’re having a season below expectations, but they achieved an important success that can transmit confidence on a psychological level.
“Let’s hope so… Mourinho is good and in the teams where he has been he has always made the difference. His ability is not in doubt. But the results so far have not been up to scratch.” He said.
Cafu thought that Francesco Totti could help Roma should he return to the club in a backroom role, similar to Maldini at Milan. “He could make a big contribution to the club and it would be nice if he was involved. Someone who’s so well known and loved would be an added value at his favourite team.”
Finally, Cafu noted what young forward Nicolo Zaniolo needs to do to continue his growth. “When he finds a bit of consistency he’ll become a champion.”
— calciomercato.com (@cmdotcom) December 19, 2021