Milan's form making it hard to choose best XI, says Pioli

Getty Images

Milan boss Stefano Pioli claimed it is becoming increasingly difficult to select his starting XI after watching his team swat aside Sparta Prague 3-0 in the Europa League on Thursday.

Pioli made five changes to the side that drew 3-3 with Roma in Serie A at the weekend and Milan went on to claim their ninth win from 10 games - including one penalty shoot-out - across all competitions this season. 

Two of those new faces, Brahim Diaz and Diogo Dalot, were on the scoresheet, while substitute Rafael Leao was also on target. 

Milan return to domestic action on Sunday with a trip to Udinese and Pioli says he is finding it tough to cram so many in-form players into his side. 

"The team knows what it has to do on the pitch and how to read the games," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"We were coming off a good performance against Roma where we could've done better in controlling the situation. Today we made the most of the spaces that were allowed.

"I must admit, it becomes increasingly difficult to choose the starting XI, as everyone is doing so well. 

"The lads work in such a unified fashion and that is the attitude that makes me want to pick them. We wanted strength in depth, so it's only right that we make the most of it."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was replaced by Leao at half-time after missing a penalty in the opening period - one of three shots without hitting the target - but Pioli says the decision to remove him at that point had been made before the game. 

"We had already planned the substitution," he confirmed. "Zlatan is a champion and probably wanted to continue, but we have another very difficult match coming up on Sunday, so it was only right to balance out our efforts."

Sandro Tonali was particularly impressive in midfield, completing more passes (72) than any other Milan player and gaining possession a team-high 10 times. 

Pioli was delighted with his display and believes the 20-year-old is starting to find his feet at San Siro. 

"Sandro Tonali made two steps forward in his performance this evening," he said. "It was inevitable he'd take a while to settle as he arrived after pre-season, so I am very satisfied with the way he is growing into the team and finding form. 

"He's perfect for creating competition for places."