Milan boss Stefano Pioli has called on the Rossoneri to show they are “the best” side in Serie A when they attempt to return to the top of the table against Hellas Verona on Sunday.
The Rossoneri are unbeaten in 13 league games, winning eight and drawing five, with only Liverpool on a longer unbeaten run than Pioli’s team in the top-five European leagues, ahead of the Reds’ Premier League clash with Tottenham on Saturday.
However, Milan dropped to second in Serie A after rivals Inter beat Empoli 4-2 in a thrilling contest on Friday, as the local rivals remain locked in a tense battle for the title.
Milan have more points at this stage of a Serie A season (77 from 35 matches) than they have taken since picking up the same amount in 2010-11, when they went on to win the Scudetto under Massimiliano Allegri.
Speaking ahead of the crucial trip to Verona, Pioli said his side are on the cusp of an incredible achievement and the time has come to show their quality.
“Now we are missing seven points to do something extraordinary and to show that we are the best in this league,” he said.
“We are now at a point where all the matches will have a weight for the final goal. I have seen great attention and motivation.
“We know that Verona can create difficulties for us, but the difficulties we have faced lately have made us grow. It’s time to show that we are not only good, but that we can be better.”
Milan have conceded just one goal in their last eight league games, boasting the best defensive record across the top-five European leagues since March, and have earned a reputation for grinding out crucial results recently.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) May 6, 2022
The Rossoneri needed late goals to beat Fiorentina and Lazio in their last two outings, and Pioli said his team’s willingness to fight to the end could prove crucial in the title race, calling on Milan to follow the example set by Real Madrid in their extraordinary Champions League semi-final win over Manchester City on Wednesday.
“We have to play as Milan, then if we win 1-0, or with a few more goals, the important thing is to be a team and play with emotion,” he added. “It’s our attitude. Even if the match is long, as always, we will try to change characteristics during the match.
“The steps to take are always the same, we want to try to dominate the games, so we must be a team from start to finish, [with] the mentality from Real Madrid.
“I don’t see my players anxious and worried, I see them motivated. We are focused, not anxious and frantic. There has been an exceptional growth. I thought I had to be here to calm them down, but not really, they are always calm and smiling, happy to be here.”
Finally, Pioli revealed he did not see the Nerazzurri come from 2-0 down to beat Empoli, as he was too busy watching teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz beat Rafael Nadal at the Madrid Open.
“I reviewed our training and then watched a great tennis match,” he laughed. “Alcaraz is a phenomenon!”
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