AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli urged his players to focus on their home match against Atalanta today and not worry about Inter Milan’s match, with the Serie A title within touching distance. Milan could become champions if they beat Atalanta today and rivals Inter Milan, who are second, drop points at Cagliari later the same day.
Milan are top of the league on 80 points, two ahead of Inter, with two matches each left to play. “We must only focus on the match and that will determine what will happen next,” Pioli told reporters. “I won’t think about Inter’s game, I don’t care. We don’t need more motivation than what we already have because we are already at the top in these terms.”
Milan, who are on a 14-match unbeaten run in the league, are aiming to win the Serie A title for the first time since 2011. “All the players are focused and motivated, just like me. We’ll get on the bus with positive energy and fans ready to support us for 95 minutes,” Pioli added.
The Italian coach hoped that striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has struggled with a knee injury for much of the season, would stay with the club next campaign. The Sweden international, who has won four Scudettos during his career, will see out his Milan contract in June.
“I hope it won’t be his last game at San Siro,” Pioli said of Ibrahimovic, who has scored eight goals in 26 matches in all competitions for Milan this term. “He is a great champion, and I don’t only refer to the technical aspect. I respect him so much, Zlatan is smart enough to decide his future,” Pioli added.
Missed penalty in Empoli draw slows Salernitana’s survival bid
Salernitana missed the chance to claim almost guaranteed Serie A survival yesterday after Diego Perotti had a late penalty saved in a 1-1 draw at Empoli which also sent down bottom team Venezia. Perotti’s spot-kick was pushed aside by man-of-the-match Guglielmo Vicario, who made a series of superb saves to stop Salernitana from gaining a win which would have moved them five points clear of the relegation zone ahead of their rivals matches this weekend.
Davide Nicola’s team sit 17th and two points ahead of Cagliari who are just inside the drop zone and face title-chasing Inter Milan in today’s late match. The draw is a not a dreadful result as Cagliari must beat reigning champions Inter to move out of trouble in place of Salernitana.
Before their current run of four wins and three draws Salernitana had been rooted ot the bottom of Serie A the whole season. And Federico Bonazzoli sent the 7,000 away fans wild in the 76th minute when he levelled Patrick Cutrone’s first-half opener for the home side.
That goal also means that Genoa, who are three points back in 19th, cannot overtake Salernitana even if they win at Napoli as they have the worse of the head-to-head record which decides placings for teams locked on the same points.
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