Monday, May 16, 2022

Pioli sees Coppa Italia derby having no bearing on Serie A title race

SoccerNews in Serie A 18 Apr 2022

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Milan’s Coppa Italia semi-final against rivals Inter will not have a decisive effect on the Serie A title race, according to Stefano Pioli.

Inter trail Serie A leaders Milan by two points, though now the focus switches to the second leg of their Coppa Italia tie.

The Milan giants played out a 0-0 draw in last month’s semi-final first leg at San Siro, and will do battle again on Tuesday with 10 editions of the Coppa Italia having passed since either lifted the trophy. 

While Milan will be desperate to lift Italy’s domestic cup for the first time since 2003, Pioli does not believe Tuesday’s result will give either team an advantage in Serie A.

“From now until the end, we need to try and win all our matches,” Pioli said. “The team are very focused and motivated, and positive energy must accompany us.

“We know very well what we need to do in the league, and I don’t think tomorrow’s derby will be decisive in this regard. 

“We need to try and win all our Serie A games, regardless of what happens in the Coppa Italia.”

Having picked up a win and a draw from the teams’ Serie A encounters this term, Milan are on their longest unbeaten run against their rivals (three matches) since a 10-game sequence ending in 2005.

This is the 14th season in which Milan and Inter will face each other on four occasions, and the first since 2004-05, when Milan managed three wins and a draw. The Rossoneri have gone unbeaten throughout all four clashes on seven of the previous 13 instances, but Pioli was mindful of the threat posed by Simone Inzaghi’s team.

“All of our past experiences have allowed us to become a team with more awareness,” he added. “Every single one of our matches against Inter have been difficult, and the details will make the difference tomorrow.

“There will be moments where we need to put our foot on the pedal, and others where we need to slow down. Inter can be dangerous when given space, and we need to manage the ball as best we can.”

Milan’s pursuit of silverware has been boosted by a run of seven consecutive clean sheets in all competitions, a sequence that began with Pioli’s men denying Inter an important away goal in the first leg.

“Not conceding is important,” Pioli added. “I’m a bit surprised because we’re a team that takes a few risks in our defending, but the whole team have grown in a significant way. We need to reach high standards when it comes to our application, intensity and focus.

“Our attitude against Inter has always been very consistent, even if it’s difficult to prevent them from creating dangerous situations. They take up positions that will force us to do a lot of running, but we have a strategy that we’ll try to implement as best we can.”

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