Stefano Pioli wants to see a reaction from his players in the Coppa Italia showdown with Inter following Milan’s humbling home loss to Atalanta last time out.
The Serie A leaders went down 3-0 at home to Gian Piero Gasperini’s side on Saturday, though they still have a two-point cushion over their next opponents at the halfway stage of the 2020-21 season.
Next up is the small matter of a derby against Inter on Tuesday, an opportunity for Milan to quickly move on from such a disappointing result and reach the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia.
The Rossoneri came out on top when the teams met earlier in the season, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s early double proving enough in a 2-1 triumph.
“It’s a different competition, but one we care about. The league is a different story,” Pioli told the club’s official website ahead of the game.
“The next derby will be in a month, with other important games beforehand, so this is just a Coppa Italia match. However, it is an important quarter-final we need to face in the best way.
“As always, there are opponents to face, dangerous opponents, but we are determined to bounce back with a good performance.
“The Coppa is a competition we care about and aim to win, because in the end all the big teams in the league find themselves in this position, facing off in the quarter and semi-finals.
“We weren’t particularly lucky in the draw. We are in the toughest section, but if you want to win the Coppa, you have to face everyone.
“It’s important to us and we’ll do our best to win.”
11 – Here is the Serie A 2020/21 best XI so far (first half of the season) based on Opta data. Army. pic.twitter.com/hzVsZY5m7u
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) January 25, 2021
Pioli confirmed Ismael Bennacer is not quite ready to return – the midfielder is on course to be available for Saturday’s trip to Bologna, though – while Hakan Calhanoglu is also still out.
New recruit Mario Mandzukic suffered an issue at the weekend after making his debut as a second-half substitute, albeit the striker has not yet been ruled out entirely.
Milan have not lifted the Coppa Italia since 2003, while their last Scudetto arrived a decade ago. Pioli appreciates there is pressure to succeed, particularly after a strong first half to the campaign, but insists that is all part of the job when in charge of such a big club.
“Last Saturday reminded us that if we can’t maintain our level, we run the risk of losing against these opponents,” he added.
“So, our objective is to make an even greater effort, a more determined one to try to maintain our standing through until the end of the season.
“We want to be ambitious and win all our games. When we don’t, we work even harder to make sure the situation doesn’t happen again.
“That’s why pressure is a privilege we must live with, or rather we must want this pressure because we’re at a great club – pressure and expectations are a part of that.”
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