In light of a gritty win over Sampdoria, Stefano Pioli has admitted that he is proud of his squad and that winning without key stars proves AC Milan’s ability to face every challenge. The Rossoneri have had an excellent start to the new season with them five points clear of second place Inter Milan.
Just one loss in their opening eighteen games of the season, which includes an unbeaten start to their Serie A season, has seen many tout AC Milan to left the league title. The Rossoneri are currently five points clear of second place Inter Milan after ten league games with only AS Roma and Hellas Verona restricting them to draws. No other side, outside their Europa League group, have managed to do the same with the Rossoneri losing just once in Europe.
However, with a series of injuries to key players including Ismael Bennacer and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it had many concerned that the club wouldn’t be able to cope. That hasn’t been the case and it has seen Stefano Pioli admit that is has been “surprised by the maturity of these players”. The Rossoneri boss further added that his side have proved that they are a real team and one capable of overcoming every possible challenge.
"I continue to be surprised by the maturity of these players. Even though it was probably the youngest side we've had all year. They never let themselves get downhearted by bad results or go overboard with good ones, they really impressed me. We all know how much Zlatan has helped us to improve and everyone wants him back as soon as possible, but every player contributed here,” Pioli told Sky Italia.
"I told the lads we are a real team. This is a group that makes the most of every situation, even the most negative, to prove what they can really do. It's the first time we were missing Ibra, Simon Kjaer and Ismael Bennacer, who are leaders of the side, but they used this opportunity to prove they could keep the team going. It means we have the enthusiasm and the energy to face down every challenge.
"These lads give their all throughout the week, these are the most difficult games after the Europa League, so winning them when we are considered the target for many other clubs, that is satisfying and we should celebrate."