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Pioli learns from Anfield thriller to prepare for crunch Champions League game


ย AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli said he has done all the necessary homework to be ready for Tuesday’s must-win Champions League clash with Liverpool at the San Siro, having learned lessons from the thrilling reverse fixture in September.

Milan’s dramatic last-gasp victory at Atletico Madrid in its last Champions League match blew Group B wide open. Pioli’s men are now third, one point behind second-placed Porto, as it vies for a place in the last-16.

If Porto beats Atletico on Tuesday then Milan cannot reach the knockout stages. But a draw and a Milan win in the final group match over already-qualified Liverpool, which Milan lost 3-2 to in September, will allow the Italian team to progress.

“Milan must be strong tomorrow evening,” Pioli told a news conference on Monday. “We face one of the best teams in the world, one of the eligible candidates to win the Champions League.

“We learned a lot from the first leg, we know the pace and intensity of Liverpool. We know at what level we have to express ourselves to keep the pace.”

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“In the first leg we suffered a lot of pressure, due to little personality and little movement, especially in the first half-hour. They will attack us with great intensity, but now we have such knowledge to be able to overcome their first pressure.”

Pioli has had to deal with several key players picking up injuries this season, with Denmark international defender Simon Kjaer the latest set for a long spell on the sidelines.

The Milan coach, however, is not looking for any excuses should his team not get the job done against Liverpool.

“Sure, playing has a lot of impact, but this applies to everyone,” Pioli added. “We are trying to do everything to try to preserve the players, to protect them.

“Now we have to grit our teeth, until December 22 (Serie A winter break) and we have to collect as many points as we can.”

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