HomeSerie APioli says Milan must adapt to hectic schedule ahead of World Cup

Pioli says Milan must adapt to hectic schedule ahead of World Cup

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – Champions League – Group E – AC Milan v Chelsea – San Siro, Milan, Italy – October 11, 2022 AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli before the match REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo

(Reuters) – AC Milan players will have get used to a hectic schedule as they have to turn out for seven games in 22 days before Serie A takes a break for the World Cup, manager Stefano Pioli said ahead of Saturday’s game against Monza.

Pioli’s side will have to cram in five league fixtures as well as two Champions League games before the World Cup begins in Qatar on Nov. 20.

“Many of the lads have played a lot but I have a group of strong players,” Pioli told reporters.

“My only wish is for the team to play at the level they know how to. The Monza match marks the beginning of a period that will see us play seven games in 22 days, and starting well would be important.”

Milan will host Monza, who have turned things around after Raffaele Palladino took charge of the club last month and are now in 14th place.

“Monza defend well and in an aggressive fashion, and they pass the ball just as well. They’ve only conceded once since the new coach came in and have quality up front too,” Pioli said.

Milan will be without keeper Mike Maignan who suffered a left calf muscle injury during training on Wednesday.

“We’re disappointed for Mike; he’s an important player and was doing everything possible to return. I think he’ll be out until at least January,” Pioli said.

Pioli said midfielder Charles de Ketelaere and defender Simon Kjaer would return after being sidelined due to injuries.

“We need to push and only focus on ourselves rather than our opponents. We’ve won three consecutive matches, and now we need to try to press on because we need a lot of points,” Pioli said.

“In Serie A, no team can be underestimated, and you can make your calendar an easier one through the standard you play at and the quality you show.”

(Reporting by Tommy Lund in Gdansk, editing by Pritha Sarkar)