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Pioli hails Milan work-rate in Turin

Stefano Pioli explains his choices to pick Juventus apart with Brahim Diaz, praised Milan’s work rate and spirit of sacrifice in a 3-0 victory, and is reassuring on Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s injury.


The Rossoneri absolutely dominated in Turin, with Brahim Diaz, Ante Rebic and Fikayo Tomori goals, while Franck Kessie also saw a penalty saved by Wojciech Szczesny.

“We try to prepare a strategy for the game and then choose the players suited to those positions we want to take. Brahim Diaz is good in that role, but it was overall a team performance,” Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.

“This was a team that believed, that showed a spirit of sacrifice, that gave its all and showed quality too. We want to thank our fans, who really moved us this morning with their support, but now we have another game coming up and that might be even more difficult than this.”

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This means Milan now have a superior head-to-head record with Juve, having lost 3-1 at home, so if the teams do end on level points, the Diavolo will be in front.

They are currently joint second with Atalanta – who they face in the final round – on 72 points, followed by Napoli on 70 and Juventus 69.

“We have had big wins this season, but admittedly this was a head-to-head, with the table so tight and so much in the balance. Unfortunately, it is not the final game of the season, so we still have to keep going.

“I celebrated pointing to the directors because the club has always been by our side and we share the joys and disappointments together.

“When it comes to determination, team spirit, and preparation to sacrifice, we were perhaps the best team in Italy for a long period of time. There was inevitably some mental fatigue after a long campaign, but we knew that today we had to step it up and put in a different performance.

“When it was time to make challenges and fight for every ball, we did not hold back.”

Pioli surprised with some of his tactics, such as choosing Brahim Diaz in the attacking trio supporting Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

“Juve are changing the way they build out from the back and I was not so convinced they would start with three or with four plus one. So what we had to do was be solid, compact and press whoever had the ball. When we didn’t manage that, we tried to defend a little deeper and plug the gaps.

“I watched the Champions League semi-finals and was so impressed with the way Manchester City and Chelsea worked off the ball, adding in the tempo and the quality. If we meet those elements, we too can have our say.”

Ibrahimovic limped off with a knee problem and his replacement Ante Rebic scored the second goal.

“Pep Guardiola plays without a centre-forward at the moment, whereas we have someone like Ibrahimovic. If you create and then fill the spaces with the right timing, that can really make the difference.

“Zlatan was not at 100 per cent, he had half a training session with us on Friday, but he wanted to be here at all costs. He has a sore knee, but I don’t think it’s anything serious. We’ll evaluate it.”

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