Pioli tells Milan to turn pain into positivity against Atalanta | Football news
Milan relented to lose 2-1 to champions Spain in the Champions League on Tuesday, and felt badly done after Franck Kessie was sent off in the first half before Luis Suarez converted a winning penalty deep in stoppage time.
“Defeats should give you positive energy. We never leave games behind, we always analyze them,” Pioli said at a press conference.
“We have to turn this defeat into positive energy, because tomorrow will be a clash with a direct rival.”
Atalanta were also in European action midweek, beating Young Boys of Switzerland 1-0, and they can close the gap with second-placed Milan to two points with a win in Bergamo on Sunday.
“Last year Atalanta was second until the last day of the season, we have a lot of respect for them but also a belief in our quality,” said Pioli.
“Atalanta is strong in every way; tactically, technically, physically. They have players who can deliver a decisive blow at any moment, but we also have these characteristics. Tomorrow will be like a Champions League game.”
Kessie’s future has been the subject of much discussion in Italian media recently, with the Ivorian being in the final year of his contract. But Pioli rejected the idea that transfer speculation was having an impact on his performance.
“That doesn’t worry me because Franck’s attitude is the best possible, the same he always had in the past, in terms of work, seriousness and professionalism,” said Pioli.
“It is wrong to judge his performance by his contract. I consider what he shows on the pitch, there are a lot of players in a lot of teams with contracts expiring where there is not as much clamor. .
“There is a negotiation going on, the time will come for a decision, negative or positive. I am not concerned.”
Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic turns 40 on Sunday, but Pioli said the Swede would only be ready to return from injury after the international break.
“I don’t know how many years he will be able to continue playing, but from what I see, his enthusiasm and his desire to train, I would say he could play forever,” Pioli said.