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Written By Onyeka

Even if it wasn’t the result that they would have wanted, it can be termed a positive one for AC Milan after playing a goalless draw against Juventus at the Allianz Stadium stadium to snap out of a run of negative results in recent matches.

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The Rossoneri needed a positive result after a dismal run that saw them crash out of the Europa League quarter-finals to 10-man Roma, draw 3-3 at Sassuolo and lose the Scudetto decider with Inter. Stefano Pioli found the ‘spirit of sacrifice’ reassuring from their draw away to Juventus, insisting he does ‘not read’ speculation on his future.

They had a decimated defence and it got worse when Mike Maignan pulled out in the warm-up with an adductor issue, but Marco Sportiello stepped in and made some crucial saves, also helped by the Malick Thiaw goal-line clearance on Adrien Rabiot. “We are going through a delicate moment, so reacting with this spirit of sacrifice and desire against a team that wanted to close up on us, that has the quality to cause us problems, that is all reassuring,”


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Pioli said in his post match interview with DAZN, having lost his voice.“Obviously, we can do better in our final ball, but we sacrificed ourselves to get this result and I am very happy with their performance. “There was also an odd atmosphere, as our fans weren’t there to support us, but we fought to the end and this is a good reaction.”

Milan ultras followed those of many other clubs by boycotting the Juventus Stadium match in protest at the system for getting tickets in Turin. This result leaves Milan with a five-point advantage over third-placed Juventus and they are on the verge of securing Champions League qualification. What more motivation can they find going into the final rounds of a dead rubber campaign?

“We have to work with our desire to do well to the end, we have to represent the shirt, we have fans all over the world. We must do well, we owe it to ourselves, to the club, to everyone. ”Milan did not have a single shot on target this evening, but the makeshift defence worked well. “I thought the first half was a very good performance, then Juve threw on a lot of strikers and pinned us back.

“But we defended with a great deal of determination, because we knew that not losing today would be a positive result for us,” confessed Pioli. “We sat back more, also knowing Juve’s danger on the counter-attack and the absences we had in defence. It is also true that results determine the evaluation of a match, so if Juve had scored, people might’ve said we defended too deep.

“This was our plan anyway, the players collaborated well during a delicate moment of the season, so I am very satisfied with their performance. I got the response I was looking for, now we’ll try to secure second place and get as many points as possible.” There are multiple reports that Milan have chosen their coach for next season as Julen Lopetegui, despite Pioli having a contract to June 2025.

“I have not read the papers for a long time. My friends still send me messages, even when I tell them not to. Concentration was important today and giving the team a sense of calm to reach the end of the season.” Pioli was asked what he most regrets and is most proud of in the 2023-24 campaign.

“Clearly, we made mistakes and our season could’ve been better, but if we are a long way off Inter and are still in second place, that means they did something extraordinary and the other teams are worse off.“We had some difficult moments, but this squad has the potential to do well and be a protagonist regardless.” He further added.

Meanwhile…

Milan CEO Giorgio Furlani hits back at ‘irritating’ speculation on Pioli and Rafael Leao, but also does not deny he spoke to Julen Lopetegui. Furlani was spotted in the stands during the match against Juventus, laughing and joking with club consultant Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and then spoke to DAZN about plans for next season.

Rafael Leao was the captain today, the player with the most appearances in the starting XI as Davide Calabria served his suspensions, but the Portuguese winger has been under fire for his sluggish performances in the really important games.

“Rafa is a Milan player, he has a long contract and he wants to remain at Milan. Therefore he will remain,” said Furlani. The biggest speculation is around the coach, as many assume Pioli will be sacked and the list of names for potential replacements goes into the dozens, with Julen Lopetegui the favourite.

“We have a coach, his name is Stefano Pioli. We are focused on ending the season well. It did not go the way we hoped, as we are Milan and always want to win. “There are a lot of rumours flying around, we just want to focus and all this talk is irritating.

“The players said it too, enough is enough, we just want to focus on playing football, winning games and staying in second place.” So does Furlani deny he held talks with Lopetegui? “Look, dozens of names have been mentioned in the media. “We are already planning the future on the transfer market, we want to reinforce the squad. This year we did not win, but that is the objective. That is what we are working on.”

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It has been suggested that Ibrahimovic will have a pivotal role in deciding the next coach of Milan, having been hired by owner Gerry Cardinale as an ‘advisor’ mid-season. “Zlatan was a champion on the field and is proving himself just as good off it,” added Furlani. “He is an intelligent, curious person who brings a great deal of experience, many years at many clubs in many different countries.

“His ideas and opinions are fundamental in the decisions that regard the future of the club.” Does Furlani have a message for the Milan supporters who have been protesting at what they see as a lack of ambition? “The fans always supported us, they are the best in the world, we are fortunate and grateful to have them. If they are not satisfied, it is because they are just as ambitious as the club. We must do better to achieve the targets that they and we all want.” He further added.

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