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Stefano Pioli urging Milan to be more ruthless as they chase second-placed Juve

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 29 Feb 2024

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Stefano Pioli called for his AC Milan side to be more “cynical” in front of goal ahead of their Serie A trip to Lazio as they look to turn the heat up on second-placed Juventus.

Milan were held to a 1-1 home draw by Atalanta in their last fixture – having lost to Monza and Rennes in their previous two matches – leaving them four points behind Juve in the Serie A standings and just five ahead of in-form Bologna in fourth pace.

The Rossoneri will now be eager to get back to winning ways against Lazio on Friday and coach Pioli wants his side’s performance to be consistent, calling for additional cutting edge up front.

“We want to produce the same performance as last week whilst aiming for a different result,” Pioli said on his club’s website.

“We analysed the positives after Atalanta but also tried to understand why we couldn’t score one more than them because we had the chance to. We need to be more cynical”.

Lazio have lost three of their last five Serie A matches, winning the other two, and will also be keen to get back on track after surrendering a half-time lead to lose 2-1 at Fiorentina last time out.

That was the second time in three matches Lazio have ended up empty-handing after taking the lead, and left them eighth in the table, eight points off the top four.

Pioli believes Maurizio Sarri’s “motivated” team will bring the fight to them at the Stadio Olimpico, where Lazio are playing only their second home match in six league outings.

Pioli also ruled out resting any of his players ahead of next week’s Europa League last-16 first leg at home to Sparta Prague.

“They (Lazio) are a team with great quality that comes off the back of an unsatisfactory performance,” said Pioli.

“They will be motivated but can also be thrown off by playing with intensity. The game against Slavia Prague will be very important, we are studying them but are fully focused on Lazio.

“Then we will have an almost full week, there won’t be changes in Rome in order to rest players. I believe that both sides will try to play with different ideas. The midfield battles will be very important”.

While Milan will still hold hope of overhauling Juve in second spot, Pioli concedes that city rivals Inter are unlikely to be caught by any team.

Runaway leaders Inter sit 12 points at the top of the table having won 22 of their 26 matches this season, losing just once and conceding only 12 goals.

Pioli said: “I think that the top spot in the league is decided, Inter are recording incredible numbers as Napoli did last year.

“April 21 (Milan derby) is too far away. We have a big game ahead of us and there are various goals to meet before we think about the derby.”

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