The Rossoneri were in dire need of a boost after dismal performances in the 5-1 derby defeat to rivals Inter and goalless Champions League stalemate at home to Newcastle United.
With Theo Hernandez and Davide Calabria both injured, Pioli transformed his side to a 3-4-3 formation and an early Rafael Leao counter-attack proved enough to beat Verona.
“We always play to win. This is a very important victory, especially after the difficult week we went through,” Pioli told DAZN.
“Verona played well between the lines and were very aggressive. This result will do us good. We only found out Calabria and Theo were out yesterday afternoon, but the reaction of those who took their place was fantastic.”
Did their absences also contribute to the change of formation for Milan?
“I never believed that you win games with tactical systems, but you do with the right concepts. The team did not struggle with the many changes, if anything the problems were caused by the physicality of the Verona approach. Perhaps at times we build it up a bit too slowly, but we played as a team.”
Leao was on target again in Serie A, but has struggled to keep any kind of consistency in his performances.
“There is often exaggerated negativity around my players. This is a very responsible group, any error by one teammate is an error for them all.
“Rafa is following his path, he must continue growing and to become a truly great player you must also learn to deal with pressure and high expectations. He did what he had to do. At times he starts strong and drifts out of the game, but he is happy here.”
This was Pioli’s 150th Serie A match on the Milan bench.
There was bad news too this afternoon, because after the kick-off was delayed by 25 minutes due to a hailstorm, Rade Krunic pulled up with a muscular problem.
According to initial reports, there are fears of a thigh strain for the midfielder, so Yacine Adli could get a chance to shine.
“Unfortunately, Krunic felt something in his flexor and we don’t know the extent of the damage, but I think it’s unlikely we will see him over the next couple of games.
“I have been testing Adli in that role since the start of the season and he is doing well, so he will have his opportunities. There are other midfielders too, we could change something upfront. The important thing is that the lads are united and hungry, just as they were today.”