Milan coach Stefano Pioli said Theo Hernandez can play a part against Torino, confirmed Franck Kessie is available and waved away Scudetto talk. ‘It’s too soon’.
Milan secured a 4-2 win over Bologna on Saturday and have joined Napoli at the top of the standings, but the Rossoneri coach was a bit worried about the leak at the back.
The Diavolo has conceded seven goals in the last four Serie A games and have only kept three clean sheets so far this term.
“It’s an aspect we must improve,” Pioli said at a press conference. “We need to be more careful from a tactical point of view.
“A greater compactness must be the target for tomorrow’s match, even if we are a team capable of always scoring one goal more than the opponents.”
Milan are tied on points with fellow league leaders Napoli after nine rounds but Pioli said ‘it’s too early’ to get carried away by the position early in the championship.
“It’s too early, nine games are nothing,” he said. “But it’s right that the fans are happy and proud of his team.
“Now let’s think about tomorrow’s match and then the next one.”
Pioli then spoke about the possibility of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Olivier Giroud playing together up front.
“The two games in which they played together were special,” he said. “The matches changed. We have different characteristics with them together.
“Now they are not 100 per cent, but they have to put continuity into training and games.”
Milan continue to win in Serie A and Pioli is not worried about the three defeats in the Champions League so far.
“For me, it’s only the match against Porto where we had to do better,” he continued. “In Italy, there are strong opponents, like Torino tomorrow.
“We work every day to always do better and continue to grow. We are a mature team, also to face the difficulties during the games.
“Then we evaluate the performance well, without dwelling on the result.”
The referees have been in the spotlight in recent weeks, but Pioli stressed he has ‘good faith’ regarding the match officials in Serie A.
“We must start from a solid base, that is, that the referees are in good faith,” he said. “I’m interested in uniformity in decisions, during the match.
“Each referee has his own way, but for the 90 minutes, there must be consistency.”
Milan are facing a tough fixture list, with Roma, Porto and Inter coming up, and Pioli said the games until December are all important.
“It will be like this until December. The commitments are of a high level,” he added. “Even playing agains teams like Torino is difficult.
“They are strong and play well. There are difficulties. We are too far away to say that we are at a decisive crossroads.”
Torino striker Andrea Belotti has been linked with a move to Milan in recent weeks but Pioli doesn’t worry about an added motivation for the Italy international on Tuesday.
“I expect a combative and proactive Torino,” he said. “I don’t even know if Belotti will play or not, the attitude he has on the pitch is not my problem.”
Tommaso Pobega has impressed during spells on loan at Spezia and Torino and reunites with Milan tomorrow.
“Tommaso is doing very well. He has the right characteristics for [Torino coach Ivan] Juric’s game, he is constantly growing.
“I expect a match where we have to fight. We will have to move well without giving any space.”
Antonio Mirante was signed immediately after Mike Maignan suffered an injury, but Ciprian Tatarusanu has been given the gloves in the French goalkeeper’s absence.
“He [Tatarusanu] is growing,” Pioli said. “He has not played much but he’s making good performances.
“Mirante is a bit behind in condition, tomorrow Tatarusanu will play.”
Pioli was asked if Franck Kessie or Sandro Tonali could play as a trequartista in Brahim Diaz’s absence.
“At the start of the game, no,” he replied. “We have [Radu] Krunic and [Daniel] Maldini, who know how to play in that role.
“It’s important to have all four midfielders available.”
Milan are hoping to apply further pressure on Napoli with another win on Tuesday and Pioli asks for ‘clear decisions’.
“Each game is worth three points,” he said. “When we face the direct title clashes, we may lose a few points.
“I’m convinced that whoever scores the most points against the other teams will win the championship. Tomorrow, we will have to be clear in our decisions.
“The next step is to be at the top all the way. We have been at the top for a long time, we lost some points last year.
“We will need even more continuity and few missteps. We have to win the dirty games too, those where we don’t play well.
“We have the qualities to get the three points even when we are in difficulty.”
When Pioli was asked about Theo Hernandez and Kessie’s availability tomorrow, he confirmed the duo can play against Torino.
“Theo, if he trains today, he can be part of the game,” Pioli said. “But I don’t think he will start. Kessie is available.”