Pioli: ‘Milan had intensity and aggression, but lacked quality’

by | Dec 19, 2021 22:27

Stefano Pioli stood up for Milan’s performance after a home defeat to Napoli, insisting it was ‘one of our best in terms of aggression, intensity and focus,’ but cannot understand why Franck Kessie’s goal was disallowed.

It was decided by an early Eljif Elmas header at the near post on the Piotr Zielinski corner at San Siro, the 1-0 result allowing the Partenopei to catch them in second place and automatically crown Inter the Winter Champions.

Serie A | Milan 0-1 Napoli: Elmas and VAR wreck Rossoneri

Milan amassed only seven points in the last six Serie A games and are now four points off the top spot, but Pioli bristled when pundits said his team is looking tired.

“I think we proved tonight that we are not tired. We can play with more quality, certainly, but in terms of aggression, physicality and determination, I saw this as one of our best performances of the season,” the coach told DAZN.

“We won back the ball repeatedly, I liked the intensity and hunger of the team. We made a few misplaced passes, lost the ball cheaply too, but I did not see a fitness issue.

“Look, it would be easier for me to say we used up a lot of energy in the campaign and had so many injuries, so we are tired, but I absolutely don’t believe that.

“I think it was one of our best performances in terms of aggression, intensity and focus. We defended almost entirely in the Napoli half, we played hard and absolutely did not deserve to lose this game.

“The regret is that early goal we conceded, as we should’ve done better on the positioning, but the rest of the performance was very good.

“We used up a lot of energy like all the teams in Europe, but I did not see a team that was tired physically or mentally. We ran very few risks against a side that is very strong.

“You need the individual moment of quality in the final third and we didn’t have that tonight, other than a few times Messias went one-on-one with their defenders.”

Inevitably, the controversy was around the Kessie goal in stoppages that was disallowed using VAR for a Giroud offside position that was considered to be active, even though he was lying on the ground under a Napoli defender.

“I know they will say the rules were applied, but how can a player who is lying on the floor possibly damage the opponent? There is no way he is obstructing Juan Jesus, Giroud’s legs are wide, he is trying everything to get out of the way,” insisted Pioli.

Milan began to cause real problems for the Napoli defence after Giroud came on to leave Zlatan Ibrahimovic a little less isolated upfront.

“Giroud was not ready to play 90 minutes, he was out for three weeks and had only a couple of training sessions. I made the changes when I considered it the opportune moment.

“I think we played well before that too. You can’t just aim long balls over the top, as otherwise you become too predictable. We did pass the ball around and get it down the flanks, the changes gave us energy and different positions, but the team did almost everything right, we just lacked a little bit of quality in the final third.”

Milan Napoli

2 Comments

  1. Antonio

    “Lack of quality”, you can say that again…
    Why constantly bypass the midfield with long balls??
    Ugly football…

  2. Maldinis heir

    Don’t understand why he didn’t at least start Saelemaekers ahead of Krunic. It would’ve given us at least some pace down the left. Krunic is a central midfielder. He’s not a winger.

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