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Pioli: “These lads continue to amaze me with their desire”

Milan coach Stefano Pioli was full of praise for his young Rossoneri side following their 3-2 win in the Milan Derby. Rafael Leao stole the show, putting on a scintillating display in the Derby della Madonnina against their cross-city rivals, and following the match, Pioli spoke to DAZN Italia  about his side’s display at the San Siro and expressed pride within the Rossoneri:

Clearly, this was a head-to-head clash, there has always been rivalry, our opponents wanted to prove they were superior for many reasons.

I am very satisfied with the attitude of the team, we dominated for 70 minutes, but once we relaxed a little, we started to run risks. These lads continue to amaze me with their desire, energy, talent and eagerness to learn. I am truly a happy coach.

Inter let us pass it around, we didn’t have to press them too hard. We had aimed to break more down the left, at times we did well, but above all the team showed great maturity against a very strong opponent. It’s not possible to dominate for 95 minutes, but we showed great determination and presence. We realized every ball could be decisive and faced this game with the right attitude.”

In addition, the gaffer touched upon Rafael Leao’s development following his marvelous performance where he scored two goals and provided an assist in order to inspire a comeback after trailing behind to La Beneamata:

In order to improve, you need talent and intelligence, so Leao has both of those. We gave him the time and freedom to make mistakes so he could learn.

Naturally, every time we put him in one-on-one situations, he’s an important weapon in our armoury. Rafa has a body language that might confuse people, but I can assure you he knows what potential he has and is very eager to learn.”

Finally, the manager briefly previewed Milan’s upcoming opening Champions League fixture against RB Salzburg Tuesday evening:

I am sure we have really matured, also helped by the experience in the Champions League in a very difficult group last season. We were concentrated exclusively on the derby, but I know RB Salzburg are very difficult, they have a lot of intensity and tempo in attack, so we must be prepared.

We’ll do different things, as Inter have a completely different approach to their tactics and shape, but what really matters is the mentality of my team. We try to find situations that can create a slight advantage, but our identity remains the same.

I think Inter expected us to press them a lot higher than we did, but we surprised them. I knew they would play two quick strikers and so with their qualities, we preferred to sit a little bit deeper, but then put even more energy and ferocity into the individual duels.”