AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli believes his players held their heads high despite falling 3-1 to Juventus on Wednesday as they battled without several key players.
The Rossoneri were without the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ismael Bennacer, Sandro Tonali, Alexis Saelemaekers, Matteo Gabbia, Ante Rebic and Rade Krunic but kept the Bianconeri on their toes nonetheless.
Federico Chiesa’s brace brought an end to Milan’s 27-match unbeaten run in Serie A, but Pioli was pleased with the spirit his side showed.
“We have to give credit to our opponents for finding a way back in front,” he told Sky Sport Italia. “We did what we needed to do, created chances and conceded some as well, but it became more difficult after going behind a second time.
“We’ll look at the defensive situations and see where we can improve, but the team faced this match with generosity, determination and concentration.
“Their goalkeeper [Szczesny] made a great save on Diogo Dalot when it was 1-1, and after that they made it 2-1 and it became an uphill struggle.
“Many teams would struggle without that many players, and although we had to change things, we maintained our identity. It was an even game until the second Juventus goal and that’s the moment things changed.
“The team could have been scared by the situation as we found out last night who was unavailable, but we maintained our identity and kept to our values.
“We knew Juventus could take advantage of the nation as they’ve won the last nine Serie A titles, but we held our head high. Their quality hurt us in situations where we could have been more focused.”
There is good news on the horizon for the Rossoneri as Pioli confirmed Ibrahimovic will be available for their match against Cagliari on January 18.
“He is doing better and his next test is in three days,” the coach added. “We will see what happens, we are taking things day by day.
“He will be ready for the match against Cagliari and I hope more players are back by then as well. We’ll see what our options are for Saturday.”