Monday, May 16, 2022

Pioli knows life remains in Serie A title race after Milan beat Empoli

SoccerNews in Serie A 12 Mar 2022

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Milan coach Stefano Pioli downplayed the importance of his side’s 1-0 win over Empoli, insisting there are many twists remaining in the Serie A title race. 

Pierre Kalulu’s superb 19th-minute goal was enough to win a tight affair for Milan at San Siro, stretching their unbeaten run to seven league matches.

Kalulu’s long-range strike made him Milan’s 16th different scorer in this Serie A campaign, with only Fiorentina and Atalanta (both 17) possessing more, as the hosts went five points clear of rivals Inter, although the Nerazzurri have two games in hand.

Pioli was pleased with how his side managed a tense encounter, but he acknowledged there was room for improvement after Milan registered just three shots in a dour second half.

Milan created chances worth just 0.88 expected goals, with Kalulu’s winning goal the Rossoneri’s 10th from outside the area this season – a tally unbeaten in the top five European leagues.

“Our opponents [in the title race, Inter and Napoli] have to play tomorrow, there are still games to catch up,” Pioli told Sky Sport.

“I think it would be much more regular if everyone had played the [same number of] games, then it is clear.

“But today it was a complicated game and we managed it well. We found an opponent who put us in difficulty, but in the defensive phase we conceded very little.

“At the beginning of the second half we lost a few balls, because in my opinion there was too little movement. 

“It is clear that we are always thinking about improving things, but it is equally true that having failed to dominate the game, we didn’t risk anything [defensively]. 

“I’m sure that the more we go on, the better we will improve. Now the goals for everyone are maximum, so the effort must certainly be high.”

With Juventus also winning on Saturday, now unbeaten in 15 league games and still seven points behind Milan, Pioli believes the Bianconeri are also contenders.

“[Juventus are] inside [the title race],” the 56-year-old said. “Nine games [remaining] are a lot, 27 points are a lot. 

“All the top five are definitely inside [the race].”

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