Monday, January 30, 2023

AC Milan manager makes Chelsea dig as Graham Potter gears up for back-to-back Champions League ties

AC Milan manager makes Chelsea dig as Graham Potter gears up for back-to-back Champions League ties

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has downplayed the difficulty of his team’s upcoming Champions League games against Chelsea.

The Blues are scheduled to host Milan at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, October 5, followed by a trip to the San Siro six days later, setting the stage for a very busy month for Graham Potter.

Due to the passing of the Queen and the current international break, the new Chelsea head coach has only presided over one match thus far, a 1-1 draw against Red Bull Salzburg earlier this month.

When Chelsea return to action on October 1 against Crystal Palace on the road, it will be their first of nine games in just 29 days.

At the time of writing, two of them are against reigning Serie A champions Milan, who are currently in fifth place.

The Rossoneri are currently in first place in Group E with four points after two games. Recently, Milan defeated Dinamo Zagreb at the San Siro after drawing the opening match with Salzburg.

Pioli, however, believes that Chelsea will not be a formidable opponent for his squad. He believes that his team’s match against Empoli four days prior will be the more difficult one.

“I don’t think there is that much difference between playing well in Italy and in Europe,” Pioli said.

“The Champions League does require a higher tempo, but nothing impossible.

“I understand there are expectations around the Chelsea games, but I maintain the most difficult match for us will certainly be against Empoli. When we go into that fixture,

“I’ll have welcomed the players back from international duty only two days earlier. I trust that if we play at our usual levels, then results against Chelsea are certainly within our reach.”

Potter, the newly hired Chelsea head coach, will be looking for his first victory sooner rather than later in October.

On October 1, the Blues will make the short trip to south London to face Crystal Palace in their first match back from the two-week international break.

Potter is attempting to instil his own way of thinking in his new squad, which may take some time.

Todd Boehly and the rest of the Chelsea board of directors are willing to allow the former Brighton manager some time to work his magic. 

Potter is well aware that the process will be protracted, but he stated after the draw with Salzburg that he is pleased with how the players have reacted to the adjustment.

“I’ve been very positive with the players, their response, attitude, intelligence,” Potter said. “They are top players and are working hard for each other.

“There is a nice spirit in the group, but they are disappointed because results haven’t gone as well as they would have liked, which is normal, and you can feel that disappointment and frustration. But it is my job to help them get the results they want, that we all want.”

AC Milan manager makes Chelsea dig as Graham Potter gears up for back-to-back Champions League ties

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