Pioli Examines a Few of His Players, Hails Journey

Stefano Pioli is ready to face Napoli in the first leg of the Champions League’s Round of 16. The coach looked back at what brought them this far and praised a few of his players talking to L’Équipe (via Tuttomercatoweb).

“We are on a three-year path. We were distant from the European elite when we started. I’m proud of our growth. Champions League is part of the history of this club. We are happy, but we must not stop here. With the returns of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Simon Kjaer, and Alexis Saelemaekers, we have improved technically and temperamentally. The Swede isn’t a normal player. He’s a champion, a role model, and a reference point for a young group like ours. He supports the coaching staff too.”

Pioli dished on his Frenchmen.

“I spoke with Olivier Giroud a couple of times before he signed. I knew we would have worked well together. He’s a great team player, as he’s generous and always positive. Theo Hernandez still has major room for improvement, but he has to realize it first. I wasn’t familiar with Mike Maignan before we faced Lille in Europa League. He turned out to be better than we anticipated. He’s meticulous and always strives to get better. He wears the staff down because he’s very demanding, but he’s also motivated. Pierre Kalulu was a revelation. He never gave up, and he’s not done growing.”

Pioli has generally always been self-critical.

“Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to improve. I base my judgments on performances. The essence of my job is to work as a team. Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti are the best in the world, but not for the same reasons. I follow Mikel Arteta too.”

Follow us on Google News for more updates on Serie A and Italian football