Stefano Pioli has stated that despite Napoli’s good form in Europe, his team, Milan, should not be afraid of them
He added that no team is perfect or unbeatable. Milan is set to face Napoli in the Champions League quarter-finals, and the first leg will take place on April 12 at San Siro. This will be the first time the two Italian teams meet in European competition.
Despite Napoli’s impressive form and their status as potential challengers for the European crown, Milan have a strong record in all-Italian showdowns in Europe, having lost only one of their nine previous encounters (won four, drawn four).
Pioli believes that nobody is unbeatable and that Milan have the ability to dream of advancing past Spalletti’s team.
The Milan coach said: “Honestly, I’d rather not meet an Italian side. In the Champions League it’s better to face a foreign club. Napoli are very strong but we want to play for it.
“They have shown great consistency, strength and quality, they have all the characteristics of a great team, but nobody is perfect or unbeatable.”
Milan has not progressed to the quarterfinals of the Champions League since the 2011-2012 season, during which they were knocked out by Barcelona led by Pep Guardiola.
The team last advanced beyond that stage and won the trophy in the 2006-2007 season. However, Pioli recognizes the challenge of overcoming Napoli, who are currently in excellent form, will be a difficult task.
Milan has lost their last three away matches against Napoli, but Napoli has not won any of their past five trips to Milan in cup competitions, according to Pioli.
Pioli backs Napoli to win the Serie A
Milan has a rich history in the Champions League, and Pioli wants to continue that tradition. However, Pioli also recognizes the importance of focusing on the Serie A top-four battle, as Milan currently leads fifth-placed Roma by just one point.
“It’s part of the history of this club and the path it has always followed,” he added. “We are beginning to write our history, that of Milan in the Champions League is a different path from ours.
“When you go to San Siro to play the Champions League it is something exciting and spectacular that involves everyone.
“We are very busy but we are also focusing on the league. To make this season a positive one, we have to play in the Champions League next year. We have to be careful.”
Milan will play against Napoli in Serie A before their Champions League clash. The match is expected to be a difficult one for the Rossoneri.
Pioli believes that Napoli could win the Scudetto this season, while Milan’s young team has found it challenging to defend their title from the previous season.
“I don’t think there are many teams in Europe that immediately win the second league,” he continued. “We won with a very young team, thanks to a project and a club path we are proud of.
“We are one of the few clubs with a sustainable project; only a few teams manage to win and be competitive in Europe.
“That is a leap that we have not yet been able to make but this year too gives us the opportunity to understand great things, to improve and be the strongest club.”