Stefano Pioli insists he has not locked down his Milan XI as they look for a third straight win against Sassuolo. “We’re not out of the tunnel yet.”
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This is no ordinary game for the Rossoneri, as many star names from the past will be in attendance to mark the club’s 120th birthday.
“We are not a club like the others and it is a particular honour to participate in this event, hopefully marking it with a performance worthy of Milan,” said Pioli in his press conference.
“Milan represented the absolute top of world football, the winning mentality, an organised and competitive club. They were a reference point for everyone.
“Our position in the table is still not what we’d like it to be, but we want to remain concentrated on this game against a Sassuolo side who play good football.
“When preparing games, we never underestimate the opposition, but when it comes to Sassuolo, that’s impossible. It will be crucial for us to have the right preventative marking to prevent their counter-attacks.”
Pioli has won his last two games on the Milan bench, so is expected to field the same starting XI for a third week running.
“We knew of how important those wins would be. We’re not completely out of the tunnel yet, but we can see the light and must keep going in that direction.
“A coach must do well to make the most of players when they are in good form, because the situation could change in a week or two. I do not have a fixed starting XI, but 24 players who I must use at the right time. If we play as a team, the individual talent will also be raised up a level.”
Krzysztof Piatek broke his goal drought and is expected to again start, especially as Pioli has said Rafael Leao is not a centre-forward.
“Leao was signed for two reasons, firstly his enormous potential, but also Milan started this season with two strikers in their tactical set-up. He is a forward who relies on movement and could even be a centre-forward with his characteristics, but he’s working to improve his versatility.”
Mattia Caldara is back in the squad after two Primavera youth team games to get back up to speed, but Fabio Borini is left out.
Milan squad for Sassuolo: A Donnarumma, G Donnarumma, Reina; Calabria, Caldara, Conti, Gabbia, Theo Hernandez, Musacchio, Rodriguez, Romagnoli; Biglia, Bennacer, Bonaventura, Calhanoglu, Kessie, Krunic, Paquetá; Castillejo, Leao, Piatek, Rebic, Suso
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