Milan boss Stefano Pioli defended his resolution to start out with Rafael Leao on the bench after his struggling crew went down 1-0 to Inter in Sunday’s derby.

Final season’s champions sit sixth in Serie A after 21 video games, at risk of failing to qualify for subsequent season’s Champions League except they buck up their concepts.

They’ve misplaced 4 video games in a row, with losses to Inter within the Supercoppa and Serie A sandwiching a 4-0 drubbing by Lazio and a 5-2 mauling at dwelling by Sassuolo.

It was league responsibility on Sunday, and Leao was solely a substitute, regardless of being a two-goal hero in September when Milan took the derby spoils 3-2 to maintain tempo with early bolters Napoli.

Whereas Napoli have saved up their early frantic tempo, and now sit 13 factors away from second-placed Inter, Milan have misplaced all momentum.

Pioli started in opposition to Inter with former Liverpool fringe man Divock Origi alongside Olivier Giroud in assault, abandoning the partnership early within the second half when the ineffective Origi was hauled off and Leao made his entrance.

The skilful Portuguese ahead nearly teed up an equaliser for Giroud, however the French striker’s management was terrible and the possibility was misplaced, however that second of fast-paced dribbling excellence highlighted Leao’s risk.

“He has huge potential,” mentioned Pioli, “however I selected to play with two centre-forwards who’re nearer vertically to place Inter’s defence in problem, even when we didn’t succeed.

“I belief rather a lot in Leao, even when he didn’t begin from the start. The alternatives I made are the most effective for what I noticed in the course of the week, for what the preparation for the match was and for the positions I needed to fill.”

With the advantage of hindsight, Pioli mentioned he would “do it once more” when requested about Leao’s omission.

In all, Milan haven’t received for seven video games, and so they face Torino on Friday earlier than a Champions League tussle with Tottenham the next Tuesday.

Tottenham’s former Inter boss Antonio Conte could also be licking his lips at that prospect, with Milan’s defending leaving loads to be desired in current weeks.

Lautaro Martinez headed in Hakan Calhanoglu’s nook for the one purpose of the derby, and Pioli accepted his gamers have been discovered missing.

“Sadly we discovered ourselves unprepared as soon as once more on a useless ball,” he mentioned. “As much as that second, we have been working effectively as a crew. We did higher within the second half.”

Pioli is aware of the drastic slide in kind has left many Milan supporters agog, and he mentioned: “The followers have each proper to criticise, the previous few performances haven’t been as much as par.”

But Pioli nonetheless has the assist of the dressing room, in keeping with midfielder Rade Krunic.

Krunic advised DAZN: “For those who lose such an essential match there are few optimistic issues. The one factor to remove is the response within the second half, the place we did higher than within the first half.

“We appeared to be doing higher in coaching than right now. We imagine in Pioli.”

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