Stefano Pioli notes Milan ‘scraped the bottom of the barrel for the remaining drops of energy’ to beat Fiorentina and keep Scudetto hopes alive, while Ismael Bennacer is a key figure.
The Rossoneri were tired after Thursday’s Europa League exit to Manchester United, had numerous injury problems and were trailing 2-1 in Florence, but still fought back for a 3-2 victory.
“This was the most difficult game, because we were coming off the disappointment of the Europa League, we had been playing every three days for many months and knew we had to scrape the bottom of the barrel for the remaining drops of energy to get it done,” Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.
In his post-match interview, Zlatan Ibrahimovic continued to say Milan were in the running for the Scudetto, as the gap at the top is temporarily cut to six points.
“Ibra is right to talk about the Scudetto, because we were up there most of the season, we’re not that far away now and we have the quality to play every single game for a victory. Whether we achieve it is another matter, but we can certainly try.
“Naturally, we started the season with very different objectives, as we were aiming to be in the top four. Now we are there, we want it to be a positive campaign right to the end. I’ve always said there will be four very happy teams at the end of the season and three who won’t be.”
Did Pioli expect Juventus to suffer today’s 1-0 home defeat to Benevento?
“No, I’ll be honest, that was completely unexpected. That is football, anything can happen, but we didn’t see that coming.”
The game with Fiorentina seemed to change when Ismael Bennacer came off the bench and set the midfield tempo, not to mention won back and recycled possession rapidly.
“I would agree that although Tonali and Meite are doing well, Isma has some specific characteristics that work really well with our system. He has been missed, he’ll go on international duty now and hopefully get some minutes in his legs so he’ll make a big impact in the final push of the season.”