Pioli’s side can clinch the Scudetto if they take all three points against Atalanta and Inter Milan fail to win against Cagliari.
AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli expects a different Atlanta side when both sides face off in the Serie A fixture on Sunday. The Italian tactician wants his players to focus on their game against La Dea rather than thinking about Inter Milan’s away match at Cagliari. The Rossoneri are inches away from securing their first league title since 2011. Pioli’s side can clinch the Scudetto if they take all three points against Atalanta and Inter fail to win against Cagliari. Both sides are heading into the contest at San Siro on the back of convincing wins as Milan beat Hellas Verona 3-1 and Atalanta defeated Spezia with an identical scoreline.
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The Rossoneri have responded with great character to seeing a 13-game unbeaten run ended by Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-final last month, beating Lazio, Fiorentina and Verona in successive Serie A games. “We’ve been playing knock-out games since the match against Lazio. We have overtaken many obstacles and we have one more tomorrow. Atalanta will force us to put in our best performance, they are the best team in away games after us.”
The game against Atalanta has a special meaning for Pioli’s Milan, who suffered a 5-0 loss in Bergamo in January 2020. It was the game that convinced Zlatan Ibrahimovic to return to the club for a second spell and the Rossoneri made a serious U-turn in the following matches, especially after the lockdown. “That humiliating defeat was useful to understand many things,” said Pioli.
Pioli added “But I don’t think tomorrow’s game ends a cycle. It’s a very important game, we won’t change our mentality. We played well in the reverse fixture, against a strong opponent. I expect different things from Gasperini tomorrow, we don’t know who will play.” Atalanta are currently placed 8th in the league standings, with 59 points from 36 games, level on points with seventh placed Fiorentina and one behind sixth placed Roma. After the Spezia win, only leaders Milan and third-placed Napoli have picked up more points than Gasperini’s side from away matches this season.
“It will be a difficult game that we need to prepare well. We must only focus on the match and that will determine what will happen next,” the Rossoneri coach added. “I won’t think about Inter’s game, I don’t care. We don’t need more motivation than what we already have because we are already at the top in these terms.” Even a draw this weekend would see Milan finish a season with more than 80 points for the first time since 2010-11. Milan’s defence has been in superb form having kept seven clean sheets from their last 10 league games. Throughout this calendar year, only Liverpool have conceded fewer goals than the Rossoneri’s nine in the top five European leagues.