Pioli Urges Milan to Push for Greater Advantage in First Leg Against Spurs

    Stefano Pioli warned his Milan players that they can’t just sit back and defend their 1-0 lead in the first leg against Tottenham in the Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday.

    Pioli’s men use a marginal lead over Tottenham Hotspur in the second leg after Brahim Diaz’s first goal since October put them ahead at San Siro.

    Milan will return to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since the 2011–12 season if they avoid defeat, although Pioli warned his players not to sit back and focus on defense on Wednesday.

    “Tomorrow is a match of personalities,” Pioli told reporters at a pre-match press conference. “Our opponents are formidable from an attacking point of view, they will play with great intensity.

    “We have to be ready to control the game more. We have a very small advantage, but we can’t think how to manage it. We have to attack and play with intensity.”

    Pioli expects a great atmosphere in north London, although he is confident his team will be able to focus on the task ahead, saying: “We expect the stadium to be as noisy as the San Siro.

    “But the crowd doesn’t score goals. We arrived with confidence, enthusiasm and determination.”

    Before the game, the Spurs received a boost from the return of head coach Antonio Conte, who was treated in Italy after undergoing gallbladder surgery.

    Pioli acknowledged the importance of Conte’s sideline from Spurs and believes his team will have to keep up with the Premier League side to ensure progress.

    “The presence of Antonio Conte on the bench will be an added advantage for Tottenham,” Pioli added. “But in addition to Conte, we will find a well-prepared and motivated opponent.

    “Both teams want to get through this round. Tottenham will probably try to attack more than the San Siro. We have to keep an eye on individual moments.”

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