Pioli explains why Milan dropped Rafael Leao

Stefano Pioli explains why he has sensationally dropped Rafael Leao to the bench and admits this game against Sassuolo has to see Milan ‘turn over a new leaf’ after a series of dire results.

It kicks off at San Siro at 11.30 GMT.

You can follow all the build-up and action as it happens on the LIVEBLOG.

There were already plenty of injury problems to deal with going into this clash, with Sergino Dest the latest addition and Ismael Bennacer injured, but the biggest shock was seeing Leao dropped to the bench in favour of Rade Krunic.

Inevitably, when speaking to Sky Sport Italia before kick-off, Pioli was asked why he had left out last year’s Serie A Player of the Season.

“Rafa played a lot in recent games, has perhaps lost a bit of sharpness. He is a very important player for us, he won’t be from the start, but can be later in the match,” said the coach.

Instead, Charles De Ketelaere gets his first Serie A start in several months, replacing Brahim Diaz.

“Charles is growing, he has the quality and characteristics to be decisive in the final third, especially in a game like this. We expect to be in control of the game, take the initiative and create lots of attacking situations.”

For the first time in Pioli’s Milan career, he has gone without a win in five consecutive matches in all competition, which includes crashing out of the Coppa Italia to 10-man Torino, losing the Supercoppa Italiana 3-0 to Inter and suffering a humiliating 4-0 defeat to Lazio.

“It has to be the game of the reboot, of turning over a new leaf. We want to win, that is beyond doubt, and we must play with conviction, energy and technical quality.”

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