Milan boss Pioli warns Napoli that ‘Champions League and Serie A are different’

Milan coach Stefano Pioli has given his thoughts on the Champions League draw against Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli, claiming he believes Milan can go all the way in the competition. 

The Rossoneri and the Partenopei were drawn against each other in an all-Italian tie in the last eight of the Champions League after the official draw at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on Friday morning. 

In his press conference at Milanello shortly afterwards, Pioli issued a reminder that playing any team at this stage of the competition is a difficult task. 

He told the media: “We were in training when the draw took place. Any side would have been a very difficult, complicated, stimulating and motivating opponent. We’re here on merit and through motivation and ambition. We want to go through.”

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The Rossoneri lost against Napoli 2-1 at San Siro in their latest meeting in September and are currently 20 points below the Serie A leaders.

“We’re in the quarter-finals, we’re Milan and we want to keep going. Napoli are strong, they’re doing better than us in the league, but the Champions League is the Champions League and Milan is Milan,” warned the Rossoneri boss.

Pioli was also asked if he had heard from his colleague and personal friend Spalletti after the draw. 

He replied: “Have I heard from Spalletti? I don’t think he’ll send me a message,” he laughed. “I have excellent relations with him, I think he’s an excellent coach. There’s a clear difference between Serie A and the Champions League, but for now, we have to focus on the league.”

Milan will feature in the last eight of the Champions League for the first time since 2012. 

Asked whether you need to be extra ambitious in the competition, Pioli replied: “Yes, but we have to go through this round. But at this point, we’re now thinking about Udinese.”

There is also a belief from the Rossoneri boss that can go all the way to the final in the Champions League. 

“The Champions League is a goal, we have to think we’ll go all the way. Why should we think that we shouldn’t succeed? We’ve played at high levels, but for now, it’s all too important to score points in the championship,” he said. 

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