Stefano Pioli expressed confidence that his Milan side can respond against Lazio following a disappointing sequence of results.

The defending Serie A champions have endured back-to-back 2-2 draws in the league against Roma and Lecce to leave them 12 points behind leaders Napoli, albeit with a game in hand.

Pioli's side also suffered a Coppa Italia defeat to Torino and lost the Supercoppa against rivals Inter in Saudi Arabia, resulting in a four-match winless streak in all competitions.

Milan are looking to return to winning ways on Tuesday when they travel to face Lazio, and Pioli is confident the team will respond in a positive manner.

"We have to face these moments, it will be another exam to overcome with humility and unity," he said at a press conference.

"Criticism is there, because the performances have been below our possibilities and the expectations, which, being Milan, are very high, we have strong roots.

"There have been experiences with lightness and good humour, now we need compactness and the will to react. My players are not bad, they deserve my trust and respect.

"We needed to reset. The situations to improve are tactical, technical and mental. The most important aspect is the mental one.

"It's good to remember how we managed to win last year in Rome, going through difficulties, but maintaining balance and focus until winning the game at the end.

"When you coach such a strong team, it's normal that my expectations are also aimed at a maximum performance and result.

"From the missed victory against Roma to the derby, we had to do more. Now we have two options: either to continue feeling sorry for ourselves or to react. I'm sure it's the latter."

Milan can have no excuses for their heavy Supercoppa Italiana loss to Inter and must now "grow up and take responsibility", according to defender Simon Kjaer.

Stefano Pioli's side were on the end of a 3-0 loss at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh on Wednesday as fierce rivals Inter retained the cup.

It is the first time since Juventus' 4-0 win over Lazio in 2013 that the contest between the reigning Scudetto and Coppa Italia holders has been won by a three-or-more goal margin.

The Rossoneri were also eliminated from the Coppa Italia at the last-16 stage by Torino last week and are nine points behind leaders Napoli in Serie A after drawing their past two games.

After ending the club's 11-year wait for Scudetto glory last year with a team that had the youngest average age of any title winner across Europe's top five leagues, Kjaer accepts there is no explanation for their current form.

"We got off to a bad start, then it became difficult," Kjaer, who was recalled to the starting line-up, told Milan TV. "They are good at what they do, but tonight we didn't put in the performance to deserve the win.

"We have to apologise to the fans. We have to analyse this match and then start again. There is no time to put our heads down but this match hurts. 

"The talk of young players lacking experience is over. We have to grow up and take responsibility. We have not played with our identity and we have to learn and look carefully at our mistakes. 

"It was a tough evening, especially mentally, but in these moments we have to find our identity and we have to improve in many aspects of the game."

 

Inter became the first side since Roma in 2006 to score twice in the opening 25 minutes of a Supercoppa Italiana clash, with goals from Federico Dimarco and Edin Dzeko putting them in control.

Milan's defence was far too easily beaten for both goals, as was the case when Lautaro Martinez added a third in the second half after getting the better of Fikayo Tomori.

Now on their longest winless run since February 2021, Pioli admits something has to change in terms of the team dynamic.

"We've missed out on one trophy but there is still lots of the season to turn it into a positive one," he said at his post-match press conference.

"But if we want different results, a little bit needs changing from a mental point of view and the way we approach matches. We play Lazio next and can go back to playing our football.

"The aim is to get back to being a team with confidence. We need to think about raising the quality of our game."

Milan coach Stefano Pioli dismissed the suggestion his team are suffering from a lack of "hunger" as they prepare to face city rivals Inter in Wednesday's Supercoppa Italiana.

The Rossoneri have not won any of their previous three games as they threw away a 2-0 lead in a 2-2 draw with Roma, found themselves dumped out of the Coppa Italia by 10-man Torino, and then had to fight back from 2-0 down just to rescue a point at Lecce.

Although in that period they have moved above Juventus in the Serie A table to take ownership of second, Milan are now nine points behind leaders Napoli.

Much of the build-up to the Supercoppa has been centred around Milan and Inter – who are a point further back in Serie A – requiring a trophy success to boost their respective title chances.

But the suggestion Milan are less motivated than last year did not sit well with Pioli, who said: "How does such a young team that has only won on trophy not be hungry?

"There's only one thing we can control: the quality of our game. If we lower the quality, it becomes difficult to win games. It's not a question of having a 'full stomach'."

In fact, Pioli recognises Wednesday's game in Riyadh as an opportunity to have continuity in terms of success, with Milan hoping last season's Serie A title triumph was the start of a successful new era rather than a flash in the pan.

"It's an important match. We have the chance to win another trophy, it would mean giving continuity to the path we started," Pioli added.

"We know that the last week or so hasn't been the best, but tomorrow is a game in itself, like every other derby is.

"There is a trophy up for grabs and this raises the level of the match, and so we have to raise our level."

The idea that Supercoppa success could be a catalyst was also put to Pioli's counterpart, Simone Inzaghi.

Inter's board has reportedly made it clear to Inzaghi that they view beating Milan as a possible turning point in the season, though he is seemingly not convinced there is a link between victory in this game and subsequent improvement.

"We'll have to wait and see. I remember last year that we enjoyed the Supercoppa final win over Juventus in the right way, because a few days later we were back playing away to Bergamo," he recalled.

"Football never stops. Three days later, we were talking about a 0-0 draw in Bergamo against Atalanta.

"We need to just take one game at a time. Now we've got Milan, and we're preparing for it in the best way we can.

"The players need to work hard for their team-mates because in these types of games it's the only way you end the game without regrets."

Stefano Pioli ordered Milan to cut out "trivial mistakes" after a 2-2 draw at Lecce left the Rossoneri nine points behind runaway Serie A leaders Napoli.

Last season's champions trailed Lecce 2-0 after 23 minutes on Saturday, before Rafael Leao and Davide Calabria hauled them back to level terms.

An exciting final 20 minutes could have brought a winner for either team, yet there were to be no more goals, and while the point nudged Milan up to second place, that gap to Napoli will be difficult to overcome.

Head coach Pioli told DAZN: "In the first half, we missed everything we could possibly miss. We made unforced mistakes and the match became more difficult."

Theo Hernandez turned a cross from Federico Di Francesco into his own goal to give Lecce a third-minute lead, and Pioli said after the game: "We need to be more clear-headed."

Milan's haul of 38 points from 18 games points to a sturdy start to their title defence, with the caveat Napoli have made a roaring opening to the season and have won 15 of their opening 18 matches.

Pioli said: "We are in line with last season, but it is also true that in this phase we are getting much less than we would like. We can do better and avoid trivial mistakes.

"We have to recover our principles of play and do it continuously."

Leao has had a goal involvement in each of Milan's last four league games, the first time he has had such a run, and his season's total of 13 involvements (eight goals, five assists) in 17 appearances is five ahead of where he was after the same number of matches in 2021-22.

Pioli denied the approaching Supercoppa Italiana game against Inter was a distraction to Milan.

That trophy game is coming up on Wednesday, and Pioli said: "It's a straight match against a great opponent, so we'll do everything to be ready."

He hopes to have Ante Rebic available for that game in Riyadh after recent muscle injury trouble, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic could also be in line for a return before long, the Milan boss added.

Ibrahimovic has yet to play this season, having undergone knee surgery at the end of the Scudetto-winning campaign.

Stefano Pioli understands the criticism Milan have received following a pair of demoralising results, but he insists the Scudetto race remains alive ahead of Saturday's trip to Lecce.  

Milan have endured a frustrating week, throwing away a two-goal lead in a dramatic Serie A draw with Roma on Sunday before crashing out of the Coppa Italia against 10-man Torino three days later.

The Serie A champions are seven points adrift of leaders Napoli ahead of Saturday's clash with a Lecce side unbeaten in their last five league games, but Pioli is backing his team to recover.

"It's normal that there is a more critical eye towards us because we won the Scudetto with excellent football," Pioli said. "When that fails, the finger is pointed more, but that's what we want.

"Criticism affects us because we didn't bring home the results we were supposed to bring home. 

"The season is long, the championship won't end tonight either. Let's not forget how we won the Scudetto."

Although Milan have been hamstrung by a lengthy injury list featuring the likes of Mike Maignan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Rossoneri will not look to strengthen in this month's transfer window as Pioli is content with his options.

"I remain convinced that our only problem is not having our complete squad in every department," Pioli said. "There is no need to intervene."

However, the Milan coach is hopeful of some important business being done by the club in the near future, with the Scudetto holders reportedly working on contract renewals for Olivier Giroud and Rafael Leao after Ismael Bennacer penned a new long-term deal on Thursday.

"I'm delighted for Isma. It's deserved for his will and determination," Pioli added. "Isma is very ambitious, with the humility of someone who knows he still has to improve. 

"I'm also very happy for the club, we are confirming a group of players that have become mature, it's important."

Asked specifically about the club's talks with Leao and Giroud, Pioli replied: "I hope more good news arrives. I hope so."

Stefano Pioli believes Milan struggled to cope with the psychological demands of facing 10 men in Wednesday's shock Coppa Italia defeat to Torino.

Milan's wait to lift their sixth Coppa Italia will extend to at least 21 years after they failed to take advantage of Koffi Djidji's red card, with Michel Adopo firing Torino through in extra time.

The Rossoneri were unable to beat impressive visiting goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic despite introducing big names including Rafael Leao, Olivier Giroud and Theo Hernandez, before Adopo capped a rapid break with a penalty shoot-out looming.

After Djidji was shown his second yellow card for a mistimed challenge on Junior Messias with 20 minutes of normal time remaining, Pioli acknowledged Milan lost their way.

"We thought the match had become easy and when you think like this you lose your lucidity, you play frenetically," he said at a post-match press conference.

"We certainly made many mistakes in the offensive phase, without dribbling speed, without having patience to move the defence, which became very dense and physical.

"We have faced the numerical superiority badly, mentally."

Wednesday's defeat followed a dramatic 2-2 Serie A draw with Roma in which Milan threw away a two-goal lead late on, but Pioli feels the pair of results represent something of an anomaly. 

"These are just episodes. The results are penalising us beyond our performances," the Milan boss added.

"But if tonight we were eliminated by a team with a numerical inferiority, it means that there is something to improve.

"It's a big disappointment, it was our aim to go forward in the Coppa Italia and we did not succeed. We all have to do better because this is not the level of the team."

Torino also dealt Milan just their second Serie A defeat of the season in October, meaning they have beaten the Rossoneri twice in a single campaign for the first time since doing so in 1984-85.

Torino stunned Milan to reach the Coppa Italia quarter-finals with a remarkable extra-time win at San Siro on Wednesday, Michel Adopo scoring the only goal to fire the 10-man visitors through.

A much-changed Milan side produced a disjointed display, struggling to break Torino down even after Koffi Djidji received his second booking with 20 minutes remaining in normal time.

After Vanja Milinkovic-Savic kept the Rossoneri at bay with a series of fine saves, Adopo capped a rapid break by converting Brian Bayeye's squared pass to snatch victory with a penalty shoot-out looming.

The result represents another setback for Stefano Pioli's men following Sunday's capitulation against Roma, ensuring Milan's wait for Coppa Italia glory will stretch to at least 21 years. 

Stefano Pioli denied his substitutions were to blame but acknowledged Milan had "messed up" after Roma snatched a 2-2 draw in a dramatic finish to their Serie A clash at San Siro.

Having watched Napoli go eight points clear at the summit by beating Sampdoria earlier on Sunday, Milan looked set to cut the gap once again as goals from Pierre Kalulu and Tommaso Pobega put them in command.

However, Roger Ibanez halved the deficit with Roma's first shot on target in the 87th minute, before Tammy Abraham pounced on a rebound from a stoppage-time free-kick to rescue a point.

The remarkable finale saw Milan fail to win a Serie A match when 2-0 up after 85 minutes for the first time since 2009, leaving Pioli stunned after the Rossoneri dominated the contest.

"We must continue to play like this but remember that matches finish in the 95th minute and that more attention is needed," he told DAZN.

"We conceded two goals from set-pieces which we can't concede. We are disappointed, we played well and we deserved to win. Unfortunately, we messed up our own lives."

In his post-match press conference, Pioli was asked whether his decision to introduce a third central defender in Matteo Gabbia invited a late spell of Roma pressure, but he does not believe the change – or a lack of application from his players – was to blame.

"Oddly enough we conceded two goals from set-pieces when we had more central defenders on the pitch. I reviewed the goal and there were some errors in marking," he said.

"When I make substitutions, I always think they are the best things for the team. We gave away a corner and made mistakes on set-pieces. 

"I don't think the tactical aspect has anything to do with it. I don't think we lost points for the three-man defence. Maybe I'll bring it in again.

"It will teach us to stay more focused in the next matches. It wasn't a problem of attitude. If we talk about willpower and spirit, we are second to none."

Roma failed to have a shot on target in the first half of a Serie A game for the third time this season on Sunday, while 48 per cent of their league goals this term have now come from set-pieces (10/21).

Despite the Giallorossi's lack of creativity, Abraham was always confident he would get a chance, telling DAZN: "We had to be patient, this is a difficult stadium. 

"We knew that an opportunity could come, I felt it in the finale and I was good. Before the [World Cup] break, I said we would be back in shape, now let's continue like this."

Tammy Abraham's stoppage-time equaliser completed a remarkable fightback from Roma in a 2-2 draw with Milan, dealing a blow to the champions' hopes of retaining the Serie A title.

Milan appeared to be cruising to victory when substitute Tommaso Pobega followed up Pierre Kalulu's first-half header with a second goal 13 minutes from time, at which point Roma had failed to conjure anything resembling a genuine chance.

However, Roger Ibanez nodded in a powerful header against the run of play after 87 minutes, prompting a late flurry in which Abraham reacted fastest to a rebound from another set-piece at San Siro.

A sole point saw Milan lose valuable ground in the title race, seven points behind Napoli after the Scudetto favourites successfully protected their own 2-0 advantage against Sampdoria earlier on Sunday.

 

Milan coach Stefano Pioli insists Napoli's first Serie A defeat of the season has done little to alter the picture in the Scudetto race ahead of Sunday's clash with Roma.

Serie A champions Milan made a successful return to action following the World Cup break on Wednesday, beating Salernitana 2-1 after taking a two-goal lead within 15 minutes. 

That result took the Rossoneri to within five points of leaders Napoli, a gap which the Partenopei failed to extend as they fell to their first league defeat of the campaign at Inter.

Milan ended an 11-year wait to capture the Scudetto with an outstanding run of form over the second half of last season, and Pioli feels they will need to produce something similar to see off the challenge of Napoli this term.

"Not much has changed with one game," Pioli said on Saturday. "We're not there to count the points behind.

"We have to make our run and we need a lot of points to win the Scudetto. We're thinking about playing well, raising the level and winning tomorrow.

"Roma are a strong, complete team, they have important offensive qualities and physicality. They lost against Napoli in the last few games and won against Inter, we will respect them a lot. 

"Then there's us, our will and our determination. Let's get back to playing at San Siro and we will do it with enthusiasm and energy."

Pioli will be unable to call upon Mike Maignan against Roma, with the goalkeeper's recovery from the thigh injury which sidelined him for the World Cup taking longer than anticipated.

Asked when Maignan might return, Pioli said: "We don't have timings, we must not take any risks and I can't say if it will be two, three, four or five weeks. 

"The muscle doesn't respond as it should, now I can't say when we will have him available."

Sunday's game will see Pioli do battle with Jose Mourinho, with the Milan boss being the only coach to face him more than once in Serie A and boast a 100 per cent winning record.

Following Roma's 3-1 defeat in this same fixture 12 months ago, Mourinho said he was "doubly happy" to have turned down the chance to coach Milan in 2019, but Pioli refused to be drawn into a war of words with his Giallorossi counterpart.

"Everyone can express their opinions," Pioli said when reminded of Mourinho's comments. "Milan was a great opportunity for me and I'll make the most of it as long as I can."

Milan have signed goalkeeper Devis Vasquez from Club Guarani with Mike Maignan still out of action.

The 24-year-old Colombian completed his medical on Monday, with his departure from the Paraguayan club for San Siro confirmed on Tuesday.

Vasquez has signed a deal with the Serie A champions until June 2026 and his arrival comes with Maignan still absent due to a calf injury that ruled the France international out of the World Cup

Rossoneri head coach Stefano Pioli revealed he is not expecting Maignan to be fit for the foreseeable future.

Asked ahead of Wednesday's Serie A clash with Salernitana whether he had a timeframe for Maignan's return, he said: "At this moment no, the evaluations we are making tell us that it is not possible to force now and therefore I do not know how to give a timing on the return. Not soon, I can say that for sure."

Vasquez joins Antonio Mirante and Ciprian Tatarusanu in competing for a starting berth in Maignan's absence.

Stefano Pioli has made it clear Inter's clash with Napoli is not "decisive" in the Serie A title race, with his focus remaining on Milan running their own race.

The champions will resume the season eight points behind Napoli and will be hoping for assistance from their city rivals in their quest to close the gap when they face the leaders at San Siro on Wednesday

Head coach Pioli says Milan must focus on their own game following a break for the World Cup.

"We don't have to race anyone but ourselves. To win the championship you will need more than 85 points," he told a press conference ahead of Wednesday's clash against Salernitana.

"We have the chance to do better than last year, but we have to push hard. I think it is very correct not to go too far with those thoughts, but to think about tomorrow, when we will find a warm environment and a tough opponent: that's what we need to start well.

"[Inter versus Napoli is] important yes, not decisive. We don't think about the other games. Let's focus on our stuff and then see. We are the first to play: what matters is our race."

Milan's quest for silverware is not solely focused on Serie A though, with the Supercoppa Italiana later this month presenting Pioli's side with their first chance to lift a trophy, while they are also still competing in the Champions League and Coppa Italia.

"We are in the race on four fronts, and it is certain that we want to win something. We wrote history last year, but in history we want to stay, by winning," he added.

"If we want to consider ourselves a winning team, we have to win something again this year.

"I saw a report on [Rafael] Leao: many goals and assists, but titles won, one. We need to do more. We have four options to do that."

Milan coach Stefano Pioli still thinks his side can defend their Serie A crown despite their eight-point deficit to league leaders Napoli.

The Rossoneri beat rivals Inter in a title race that went down to the wire last season, taking a first Scudetto since the 2010-11 campaign.

But their hopes of a second successive triumph look to be under serious threat, with Napoli having romped away at the summit after 15 games.

Milan remain their nearest rivals, however, and Pioli argues his team can still turn it around, although he knows they must hit the ground running in 2023.

"It is clear that we arrived at this prestigious [title] victory ahead of time, because the club's desire was to invest in players, especially young players, so maybe we expected to win a little later," he told Italia Uno.

"But we managed almost immediately, so it is clear that for me and for us 2022 was a really important year and full of satisfaction.

"You have to think that you can still win the championship [this season], this in the most absolute way.

"Then it is clear that if Napoli continues like this they can make 100 points and then we must congratulate them, but we must think about making many points.

"Last year, 86 were needed; perhaps this year they could need even more. There are still 69 points available – that's a lot – but we have to start pedalling hard and we definitely have to believe in it."

Stefano Pioli was left frustrated as his Milan side were held to a 0-0 draw by winless Cremonese in Serie A on Tuesday.

An impressive performance from Cremonese goalkeeper Marco Carnesecchi saw him deny the likes of Divock Origi and Junior Messias as Milan dominated the first half.

Origi thought he had broken the deadlock soon after the break, but a VAR check ruled him offside before Cremonese saw out the remaining minutes to pick up a valuable point and prevent Milan from keeping pace with leaders Napoli, who beat Empoli 2-0 earlier on Tuesday.

Attempting to win their second straight league title, Pioli's men now sit eight points Napoli, and the Milan head coach was disappointed in their display as they failed to pick up all three points on the road for the fourth game in seven to start this season, having only dropped points away from San Siro five times last campaign.

"We could have done more tonight," Pioli told DAZN. "We played a decent first half, but the second was not up to par.

"We did not create enough to be really dangerous. With our quality we could do more, despite the few spaces granted by Cremonese.

"In the second half there was little fluidity and clarity. We won a few offensive duels and so it is difficult to score."

Pioli acknowledged the lead that Napoli now hold over his side, and spoke of his desire to see an improved display at the weekend as they look to bounce back against Fiorentina.

"Eight points are a lot," Pioli added. "We don't like this result, but on Sunday we have the opportunity to redeem ourselves.

"We didn't want this gap. Congratulations to Napoli but we could have done more."

Milan drew a blank despite Pioli introducing Rafael Leao with half an hour to play, but the head coach refused to criticise the substitute for the little impact he had.

Pioli explained: "I think it's wrong to point the finger only at a single player [Leao]. If you don't work well as a team, the results won't come. The overall performance was not up to par.

"We expected this attitude from Cremonese. We had some opportunities to score goals, but if you don't unlock them immediately then everything becomes more complicated."

Milan were held to a goalless draw after a wasteful display meant the champions picked up just a point away at winless Cremonese in Serie A on Tuesday.

Stefano Pioli's side dominated the first half, though a magnificent performance from Cremonese goalkeeper Marco Carnesecchi kept out efforts from Divock Origi and Junior Messias.

Origi saw a goal disallowed in the second half and despite some late pressure, the hosts clung on to pick up just their seventh point of the season.

Milan cut Napoli's lead at the top to eight points, but just a draw against such a lowly side will be frustrating for Pioli's men as they lose pace on the table-toppers.

The Rossoneri controlled possession early on, but struggled to create anything clear-cut until Brahim Diaz poked Messias' cross wide after 23 minutes.

They had an even better chance soon after when Origi was slipped through on goal by Ante Rebic, though the former Liverpool striker's low shot was saved by Carnesecchi.

More impressive work from Carnesecchi was required soon after, first diving to his right to palm away Malick Thiaw's header from a corner, before a smart stop to deny Messias ensured Cremonese made it to the break level.

Origi thought he had broken the Cremonese resistance 11 minutes into the second half, but his sliding finish was ruled out by VAR after he was adjudged to be offside.

Rafael Leao was then thwarted by Carnesecchi as Milan pressed for a winner, but they could not find one as they were forced to settle for a point.

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