Pioli urges AC Milan to build on superb 2020 as title bid resumes

·2-min read

ROME (Reuters) - Stefano Pioli encouraged his AC Milan players to put a memorable 2020 behind them and focus on improving ahead of the Serie A leaders' trip to Benevento on Sunday.

The Milanese club enjoyed an impressive calendar year, losing just two league games in 12 months, the last of which came against Genoa on March 8.

Pioli's side earned the title of 'winter champions' thanks to a last-minute 3-2 win at Lazio, before a 10-day break in league action.

But the head coach insisted he is focused only on the next game, with his side sitting just one point ahead of rivals Inter Milan in the standings.

"I ask my players to do even more, what we did in 2020 doesn't matter anymore," he told a news conference.

"I must do more myself above all, we need to become even stronger."

"In my head I have micro-objectives, like Benevento vs Milan," he continued.

"2020 was positive because all the components made themselves available to reach their maximum potential. We start this year with great enthusiasm, confidence and conviction in our ability.

"A year ago, we started to build, now the foundations are in place. We must have the motivation to continue to grow, to take on every game at our best and try to win."

Milan ended the year with a lengthy injury list including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Simon Kjaer, Ismael Bennacer, Matteo Gabbia and Samu Castillejo, but Pioli insisted that he isn't expecting major signings in January.

"Only Castillejo will be called up, all the others are working well but aren't ready," he said.

"The primary objective is for the injured players to recover, as with a complete squad I have everything I need for all our commitments.

"The transfer window opens on Monday, the club will be ready if there are any opportunities."

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Christian Radnedge)