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Stefano Pioli praised the growing maturity of his Milan players in the absence of injured forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The Rossoneri established themselves at the top of Serie A with a resounding 2-1 victory at Sampdoria on Sunday thanks to goals from Franck Kessie and Samu Castillejo.
Milan secured the victory without the talisman Ibrahimovic, who is suffering a hamstring injury but is expected to return soon.
The experienced Swede has scored 10 goals in six Serie A games this season, and his presence was lost against Sampdoria, but Milan managed to get the job done in Genoa.
“I continue to be surprised by the maturity of these players,” Pioli told Sky Italia.
“Although it was probably the youngest team we’ve had all year. They were never put off by bad results or go overboard with good ones, they really impressed me.
“We all know how much Zlatan has helped us improve and everyone wants him to come back as soon as possible, but all the players contributed here.
“I told the guys that we are a real team. This is a group that makes the most of every situation, even the most negative, to show what it can really do.
“This is the first time we have missed Ibra, Simon Kjaer and Ismael Bennacer, who are team leaders, but they took this opportunity to show that they could keep the team going.
“It means we have the enthusiasm and energy to face all challenges.
“These guys give it their all all week, these are the most difficult games after the Europa League, so winning them when we are seen as the goal of many other clubs is a satisfaction and we must celebrate.”
– OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) December 6, 2020
Milan have won eight of their first 10 Serie A matches and have beaten Inter five points at the top of the table.
In the previous 86 seasons in the competition, the Rossoneri had won the most games at this point in the season in 1954/55 alone (nine games).
However, Pioli admitted that Milan can feel rivals for the Scudetto breathing down his neck.
“I think the results this weekend show that the strongest teams are coming, they are getting closer,” said the Milan coach.
“I am convinced that Inter, Juventus and Napoli will continue to be challenging until the end.
How can you think that Juve is not the favorite after winning nine years in a row? Or Inter with their investments, or Napoli with their talent? “
Milan conceded a corner against Sampdoria when Albin Ekdal hit the ball and Pioli acknowledged that his team has a tendency to disconnect on set pieces.
“The last goal we conceded since the open game was against Napoli,” he added.
“We need to be more focused on set pieces. It is true that we are not the highest team, but I think we had more opportunities in dead ball situations than Sampdoria ”.