Paolo Maldini stated Milan believe they can stay in the Scudetto race with Napoli, and commented on CDK.
The World Cup break has officially begun for Milan after three grueling months, in which Milan collected 34 points from 45 available; the last 3 arrived this evening in the 92nd minute as the Rossoneri beat Fiorentina 2-1 thanks to an early Rafael Leão goal and a late own goal from Nikola Milenković (from an Aster Vranckx cross).
Stefano Pioli did not address the press after the game due to personal reasons, so Technical Director Paolo Maldini took the stage and spoke to DAZN:
“A draw would’ve changed the mood going into two months of the break, but we held on somehow with a spirit of sacrifice, without playing frankly that well, but we wanted to win and we did.”
On Milan’s performance in the first part of the season: “We have 2 points fewer than last season, the difference is Napoli who have done some incredibly things with 11 wins in a row, so they deserve credit for that. We are more or less where we were last season. In Cremona we were ugly and we misinterpreted the match, but otherwise nothing can be said. We are also in the Champions League Round of 16. We have to recover some players. We have a different kind of awareness that allows us to keep the enthusiasm going even when the performances aren’t very good and led us to win last year.”
On the desire to win: “It was a very open game and anything could’ve happened: we could have scored but so could they. The risk was there but a draw for us would’ve been like half a defeat, so that gave us the strength to push harder and at times go beyond logic or style to get the job done.”
On chasing Napoli: “Of course we believe in ourselves. Last season, when we played the derby, we were seven points off Inter. We know it’s not easy to keep this pace going to the end, so we have to stay in there and see what happens. We obviously have to grow.”
On the quality of play: “Against Napoli we played better than them and maybe we deserved to win. At this moment, we are running on empty to a degree, it’s not something I saw at the start of the season.”
On Ibra: “He is fine, hopefully he can come back for January.”
On De Ketelaere: “He is having a difficult time, it’s a different environment with different pressures. He’s in his own head more than before. We signed a five-year contract with Charles, not five months, so we have the patience to wait for him, like we are waiting for Origi. They have everything required to be decisive for this club. We had many examples in the past, for example Leão, who took a while to learn what it means to play for Milan and reach maturation.”
On if some players were distracted by the World Cup: “We don’t have that many players who are going to the World Cup and one of them is a 36 years old who can for 95 minutes, so we doubt he was distracted. Maybe those coming back from an injury might have thought about it, but that’s not the case. Maybe just Dest, but he gritted his teeth to be here and contribute to the team even when not 100 per cent fit.”