Stefano Pioli said Milan used the passion of their fans as ‘fuel’ to crush Cagliari 4-1 in the first half, and he has seen some of his younger players mature over the summer.
For the first time in over 18 months, the Rossoneri got to play in their home stadium full of fans, albeit only at 50 per cent capacity due to COVID restrictions.
“This warmth and enthusiasm made us emotional, we did well to use that passion as fuel, playing with verve and pace. It’s true, perhaps the team can’t hear my instructions as well in this noise, but they know what they’re doing!” the coach told DAZN.
Serie A Milan 4-1 Cagliari: Giroud at the double
Sandro Tonali opened the scoring with a sensational free kick, then Rafael Leao’s effort took a deflection off Brahim Diaz before the Olivier Giroud brace.
“The day we started pre-season training, I saw that Tonali, Leao and Rade Krunic were more mature, more ready for this challenge. They learned from last season, worked really hard and have come forward in leaps and bounds.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic watched from the stands as he recovers from injury and Pioli was asked if he would use Ibra alongside Giroud.
“I am very open to all situations, I’ll take it one game at a time to pick the best line-up for that match. When we have the need for two strikers, I will not hesitate to use them together. I just hope to have everyone back to full fitness.”
Milan are back in the Champions League in a group with Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and FC Porto.
“We’ve got a remarkable run of games coming up after the break for international duty, including Liverpool, Juventus and Atalanta, so we need to keep this mentality and enthusiasm.
“If we really want a positive future, we must treat everyone as first choice players. We’re missing some at the moment, a couple more might arrive, but we must train the way we want to play and play the way we train.
“The Champions League group is very tough, as we have an opponent that won the trophy two years ago, another that won La Liga and Porto who eliminated Juventus last season. We must see this as an opportunity to be grabbed with both hands and enjoyed.
“We are getting used to playing entertaining football and enjoying ourselves, but we must also remember that the great teams are also capable of winning ugly.”