Stefano Pioli notes Milan ‘scraped rock bottom of the barrel for the remaining drops of energy’ to beat Fiorentina and keep Scudetto hopes alive, while Ismael Bennacer may be a key figure.
The Rossoneri were tired after Thursday’s Europa League exit to Manchester United, had numerous injury problems and were trailing 2-1 in Florence, but still fought back for a 3-2 victory.
“This was the foremost difficult game, because we were coming off the frustration of the Europa League, we had been playing every three days for several months and knew we had to scrape rock bottom of the barrel for the remaining drops of energy to get it done,” Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.
In his post-match interview, Zlatan Ibrahimovic continued to mention Milan were within the running for the Scudetto, because the gap at the highest is temporarily move six points.
“Ibra is true to speak about the Scudetto, because we were up there most of the season, we’re not that distant now and that we have the standard to play every single game for a victory. Whether we achieve it’s another matter, but we will certainly try.
“Naturally, we started the season with very different objectives, as we were getting to be within the top four. Now we are there, we would like it to be a positive campaign right to the top . I’ve always said there’ll be four very happy teams at the top of the season and three who won’t be.”
Did Pioli expect Juventus to suffer today’s 1-0 home defeat to Benevento?
“No, I’ll be honest, that was completely unexpected. that’s football, anything can happen, but we didn’t see that coming.”
The game with Fiorentina appeared to change when Ismael Bennacer came off the bench and set the midfield tempo, to not mention won back and recycled possession rapidly.
“I would agree that although Tonali and Meite do well, Isma has some specific characteristics that work rather well with our system. He has been missed, he’ll continue international duty now and hopefully get some minutes in his legs so he’ll make an enormous impact within the final push of the season.”