Stefano Pioli was beaming with pride after Milan’s 3-2 win away to Atalanta, when they had been 3-0 up. ‘This shows how much we’ve made progress.’
The Rossoneri famously began to rebuild after a 5-0 defeat in Bergamo in December 2019, but came back here in October 2021 with a largely dominant performance.
They had been 3-0 up, with Davide Calabria scoring 28 seconds in, then Sandro Tonali and Rafael Leao on target, but a late fightback through Duvan Zapata’s penalty and Mario Pasalic.
“There’s no point denying it, we played really well with intensity, energy and quality. It is a great end to a run of difficult games and the team is improving, in the Champions League as well as Serie A, so we need to continue like this,” the coach told DAZN.
“I think honestly there was a blatant foul on the second goal and I don’t know how they didn’t call that. Anyway, that’s irrelevant.
“Atalanta have always caused us huge problems over the years and are doing well in the Champions League too, so being able to play them on level terms like this and win shows we’ve really made progress.”
Brahim Diaz and Rafael Leao are more effective when attacking than defending, but Pioli doesn’t see that as a weakness.
“For strikers, it’s better to run forward than run backwards. We tried to be dangerous whenever we went forward, we’ve got a lot of quality in attack and pace. It means running a few risks, but it’s good when they come off.
“This team has been working in a certain way for two years now and getting the results. We must remain humble and maintain our belief.
“We know Atalanta are very aggressive in their defending, so we tried to release someone from midfield to go forward.
“What we didn’t do well in the first half-hour against Liverpool was to be dynamic, but we learned from it and took the right approach here, against a team with a fairly similar style.”
There were reports Franck Kessie would be dropped following poor performances and the on-going contract dispute, but Pioli stands by the Ivorian.
“I have no doubts on Franck’s quality or his attitude. The contract is a different situation, but he played in the Olympics over the summer, he got injured straight away, so he has had difficulties.
“I think today his performance was excellent, it reminded me of his performance here last season. He’s absolutely my first choice in midfield and we have many options to choose from.”
Pioli is refusing to hold back on the enthusiasm of the Milan players and fans after their best start to a Serie A season since the Scudetto-winning 2003-04 campaign.
“I too have improved, and that is also thanks to the squad, the club that supported me and the directors. When everyone works together on the same page, it feels easier.
“However, there’s a long way to go and we must remain humble, because it will be a battle. At the same time, it’s good to ride the wave of enthusiasm and I want my players to believe themselves superior to the rest. It’s then up to them to prove it, one game at a time.”
Pioli a DAZN: “Vittoria pesante: il dinamismo mancato a Liverpool lo abbiamo proposto oggi. Scudetto? Cavalchiamo l’entusiasmo” https://t.co/qH8bfNDLnv
— MilanNews.it (@MilanNewsit) October 3, 2021