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Pioli: Milan must channel spirit of Davis Cup winner Sinner for Borussia Dortmund clash

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Milan coach Stefano Pioli wants the Rossoneri to channel the spirit of Italy’s Davis Cup-winning tennis team when they face Borussia Dortmund in Tuesday’s crucial UEFA Champions League fixture.

Pioli’s side fought back from 1-0 down to clinch a huge 2-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain on matchday four, keeping them in contention to advance from Group F.

Sitting third with five points, Milan could see their last-16 hopes ended with a game to spare if they lose to Dortmund and PSG overcome Newcastle United in the group’s other match on Tuesday.

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As the Rossoneri bid to protect their unbeaten record at San Siro in the Champions League this campaign, Pioli has turned to another sport for inspiration.

Italy’s tennis players claimed their first Davis Cup title in 47 years on Sunday as world number four Jannik Sinner helped them overcome Australia in the tournament’s final, and Pioli feels his players can learn from that triumph.

“We would all be happy to see Sinner at the stadium. Congratulations to all of them,” Pioli said of Italy’s success at Monday’s pre-match press conference.

“It took not only his determination but also his talent, his quality, his mentality, the desire to win every single point.

“Coach [Filippo] Volandri created an empathy with all the participants, which means that you can overcome limits.

“It is the same situation on which we work, being together and finding solutions. Tomorrow we will need a team performance with the same spirit. The opponent is strong and the objective is important.”

Milan enter Tuesday’s game with fitness concerns over several key players, with the likes of Rafael Leao, Simon Kjaer, Pierre Kalulu and Noah Okafor among those either sidelined or doubtful.

Pioli admits Milan’s lengthy injury list has had a major impact on their recent results, with the Rossoneri only winning two of their last seven games across all competitions (two draws, three defeats).

“This applies to all teams. Two or three absences can be made up for, but if you reach five or six it can be decisive,” he said.

“We have paid for these situations in the league, especially in the second halves, sometimes with the wrong mental attitude. We have made mistakes and we are working to fix them.

“All of the matches can change the season. We know our objective. It’s clear that tomorrow is an important and almost decisive step. We will face it with the right mentality.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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