'Liverpool are not impenetrable' – Pioli relishing crucial Champions League clash

By Sports Desk December 04, 2021

Stefano Pioli hopes Milan have the quality to exploit the Liverpool defence in their crucial Champions League clash at San Siro on Tuesday.

The Rossoneri ended a three-game winless run at home in all competitions with a routine 2-0 victory over Salernitana three days before their crunch meeting with the Reds.

After beating Atletico Madrid 1-0, Pioli's side enter the final round of games in third place in Group B, a point behind Porto in second.

Should they beat Liverpool – who are already through to the last 16 as group winners – and Porto draw with Atleti, Milan will progress to the last 16.

Although the odds are against them – Milan have not beaten English opposition in Europe since February 2012 – Liverpool could elect to field a weaker side, while their defence has not looked as impregnable as it sometimes has under Jurgen Klopp.

While their 12 clean sheets before December 4 was the joint-most in Europe's top five leagues this season, they have conceded 17 goals from an expected goals against total of 23.4, suggesting they should have let in at least six more given the quality of chances faced.

Pioli hopes to exploit any possible weakness in the Reds rearguard, telling DAZN: "Having faced them already gives us more information about them.

"Liverpool have a thousand strengths: they have fantastic strikers, and one of the strongest teams. We'll try to do our best in a great atmosphere that we'll try to make the most of.

"We wanted to be in this position and now we can only try to give our best. We know Liverpool will inevitably cause us some problems, but spaces can open up too because they are certainly not unbeatable or impenetrable in defence."

Milan dominated Salernitana on Saturday and should really have added to their two goals, firing in 22 shots and eight on target while facing just two from Serie A's bottom side.

They attempted 14 in the first half alone, the most they have managed in the opening 45 minutes of a game this season, as they eased to a win that moved them two points clear at the top ahead of Inter's trip to Roma.

"I leave with the satisfaction of a good performance and a good victory. Of course, scoring a few more goals would have been better," Pioli said.

"I'd predicted a balanced league. It looks like the top four are becoming separated. I expected Juventus, Roma and Lazio to be closer but, in a league, it's the details that will make the difference.

"To win the title, you need great consistency and that's what we're trying to achieve. We need to keep the level high all year round. We're satisfied with what we're doing but we don't need to look at the table while staying focused to have a great Christmas."

Related items

  • Shanahan had a feeling about 49ers special teams in upset victory over the Packers Shanahan had a feeling about 49ers special teams in upset victory over the Packers

    Kyle Shanahan had an inkling that the San Francisco 49ers' special teams would prove pivotal in their shock divisional round win over the Green Bay Packers.

    The 49ers gained seven points on special teams and saved three on a night where Robbie Gould's walk-off field goal earned a 13-10 triumph to send San Francisco to the NFC Championship Game.

    Green Bay had led for most of the game after AJ Dillon's first-quarter touchdown but the 49ers drew level late when Jordan Willis blocked Corey Bojorquez's punt allowing Talanoa Hufanga to collect the loose ball and run into the end-zone.

    The 49ers regained possession with 3:25 to play, with the excellent Deebo Samuel helping drive them into field-goal range before 39-year-old Gould nailed his 45-yard attempt on the final whistle.

    "We thought our special teams had an advantage in this game," head coach Shanahan said. 

    "We thought they had an opportunity to possibly win us the game. And to be able to say that and to actually come to fruition was huge for those guys and huge for our team."

    Gould, who has now succeeded with each of his 20 career playoff field-goal attempts, ensured his boot stayed hot in snowy conditions at Lambeau Field and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo paid tribute to his team-mate, with a little pun thrown in for good measure.

    "I always trust Robbie. He's as good as gold, man. He always is," he said.

    Garoppolo added: "It's dangerous, man. When a team gets hot, it's dangerous.

    "So we've just got to keep this thing going, focus on next week now, and keep this thing rolling.

    "It took everything. We knew it was going to. I mean, it was just offense, defense, special teams - everybody stepping up and doing their part. I wouldn't have it any other way."

    The stars certainly seemed to align for the 49ers, who lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, with Jimmie Ward having earlier blocked a 39-yard field goal attempt from Mason Crosby on the final play of the first half. Had he made the kick the Packers would have led 10-0.

    Victory means the 49ers are headed to their 17th conference championship appearance, the most for any team since the conferences were forged following the 1970 merger.

    With the Cincinnati Bengals having beaten the Tennessee Titans earlier in the day, it also meant it was the first time since 2010 both number one seeds lost in the divisional round in the same season.

    George Kittle said the 49ers proved they are a "gritty" team to make it this far.

    "This team has been through a lot," the tight end said. "We've been through a lot of adversity. 

    "We've dealt with a lot. We've lost games by making mistakes. We've won games dirty. This is a gritty team. It's a salty team, and we just keep bouncing back."

  • Rumour Has It: Ex-Inter star Eriksen set to complete Brentford move imminently Rumour Has It: Ex-Inter star Eriksen set to complete Brentford move imminently

    Christian Eriksen had his contract terminated with Inter last month.

    The Danish midfielder has been training with Ajax in recent weeks.

    But the 29-year-old former Tottenham star is set to return to England.

     

    TOP STORY – ERIKSEN SET TO COMPLETE BEES DEAL

    Former Inter midfielder Eriksen is set to complete a deal to join Brentford in the next 72 hours according to the Mirror.

    Ex-Tottenham star Eriksen has agreed terms but needs to pass a medical with the Bees to seal the imminent deal.

    The Denmark international, who suffered a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020, was unable to play for Inter this season due to Italian football regulations.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - Newcastle United will open new talks with Brighton as they move to sign Yves Bissouma, claims the Daily Mail. The Magpies are also pondering an offer for Tottenham's Dele Alli.

    - The Sun reports that Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola may be lured away with by the offer to take over as the Netherlands national team boss. The Dutch deal would start in 2023 when his current contract expires.

    - West Ham will make a bumper move for Everton forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin claims The Sun. The deal would be worth £60million.

    - Mundo Deportivo claims that ex-Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj is set to extend his current deal with Real Sociedad .

    - Diego Carlos' representatives are trying to convince Sevilla to sell him to Newcastle with a £60m deal on the table according to 90min.

  • Australian Open: Nadal overcomes marathon first set to beat Mannarino for quarter-final spot Australian Open: Nadal overcomes marathon first set to beat Mannarino for quarter-final spot

    Rafael Nadal overcame a marathon first-set tiebreaker to move into the Australian Open quarter-finals with a straight-sets win over French veteran Adrian Mannarino on Sunday.

    Nadal continued on his search for a record-breaking 21st grand slam title with the 7-6 (16-14) 6-2 6-2 victory at Rod Laver Arena.

    The Spaniard will take on either third seed Alexander Zverev or Canadian 14th seed Denis Shapovalov in the last eight on Tuesday. The win marks Nadal's 14th appearance in the Australian Open quarters.

    Nadal has only dropped one set in his first four matches at the Australian Open but the opening set against Mannarino was epic, with the sixth seed edging his opponent after 80 minutes.

    The 2009 Australian Open winner trailed 3-0 in the tie-break but fought back to level it up, eventually taking the set 16-14 with his seventh set point.

    Nadal assumed complete control from that set on, dominating the second and third to win in two hours and 40 minutes.

    The 35-year-old was powerful, sending down 16-7 aces, while he won 88 percent on his first serve across the match. Nadal only offered up two break points for the match.

    DATA SLAM: Nadal on the right track

    Nadal has dropped 38 games across his four matches at the Australian Open, making light work of Mannarino in the latter two sets which collectively took as long as the first.

    The Spaniard won in Melbourne in 2009 but lost finals in 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2019, yet without Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer at this year's event it looms as his best chance for years to lift the title and he seems in good health and form. 

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

    Nadal – 42/22

    Mannarino – 37/34

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

    Nadal – 16/6

    Mannarino 7/4

    BREAK POINTS WON

    Nadal – 5/17

    Mannarino – 1/2

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.