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Failing to reach the top four would be disappointing - Stefano Pioli

Mon 17 May 2021 | 7:01

AC Milan could have secured their European position if they had beaten Cagliari last night, but with the 1-1 draw, it all depends on their final game against Atalanta.

There’s no point thinking about what might’ve been. We have to focus on the next match,”

Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.

“We weren’t at the level of our recent performances, in terms of tempo and quality. We had the game of a lifetime against Juventus, then with Torino, so it’s another of those with Atalanta. We go again.

“In tonight’s game, we felt a bit of everything. We knew a win would finish it, so there was some tension, some fear, some misplaced confidence that we could win by playing ugly, but we have to fight for every point.

“We should’ve moved the ball quicker and created more advantageous situations, that’s just it.”

The fate of Milan is in their own hands because they have a better head-to-head record against Juventus and Napoli. The Rossoneri will be in the top four if they win against Atalanta.

“We’ve done great things this season, there is disappointment this evening and we know Atalanta are the only side we’ve been unable to beat during my tenure at Milan.

“We evidently have to bring out our best in order to achieve it.”

Pioli emphasized that the pressure on Cagliari has taken away as their position in the upcoming Serie A season tightened after Benevento’s draw.

“I think this afternoon’s result allowed Cagliari to play without any pressure and then they were able to play the tactical game they had prepared.

“If you don’t approach it with the right determination and focus, you will run into difficulty. The worst mistake we made tonight was losing our sharpness, and that is what we absolutely should not have done.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

is out for the next six weeks due to a knee injury.

“We need to remember that people said we were entirely dependent on Zlatan, then after two games they said we play better without him. Neither of those are true.

“We needed someone who was ready to play as a centre-forward when Ibra was out, but unfortunately Mandzukic had various different issues and was rarely available.

“I replaced Bennacer with Meite to bring a bit more dynamism in midfield and he can also give us something more on set plays. Mandzukic is nowhere near at 100 per cent and unfortunately there was no way he could play longer.”

Pioli was asked if he thought losing the Champions League is a failure.

“With the way we played, all we did and how much we’ve grown over the year, failing to reach the top four would certainly be disappointing. It would still not be a failure, because I feel we laid the foundations to get there very soon in the future and it was an aim at the start of the season, but definitely not an obligation.”

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