Pioli refusing to look past Udinese

Stefano Pioli says the competitive nature of Serie A means AC Milan are only thinking about themselves and their next game as they aim to maintain their lead at the top of the standings on Friday (Match Result – Milan 1/2, Draw 16/5, Udinese 6/1).

The Rossoneri host Udinese at 17:45 on a big night of football in Italy, with local rivals Inter also in action away at Genoa at 20:00 (Match Result – Genoa 17/2, Draw 4/1, Inter 1/3).

Milan (4/1 Serie A Outright) sit top of the standings, two points clear of the Nerazzurri but know a slip up could cost them top spot, while Inter (4/9) have the added advantage of having a game in hand.

With Napoli also perched alongside Inter on 54 points ahead of their game at Lazio on Sunday, every point could prove crucial come the season’s final round on May 22.

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It would be easy to get caught up in the excitement but Pioli is only focused on Friday’s match with Udinese as he knows his team cannot influence events elsewhere.

Le Zebrette have their own issues to worry about, with them currently 16th in the table.

The 56-year-old coach says it would be foolish for his side to overlook Friday’s rivals, or any other opponents, as they chase a maiden Scudetto since 2010-11.

“We’re not looking at the other teams,” he told reporters. “We need to determine how our own games go, and I always expect progress and growth from the team. It’s a key part of the season.

“The truth is that the matches in this league are always difficult and balanced affairs, and you need to display quality if you want to win.”

There is also La Liga action on Friday as bottom club Levante host 13th placed Elche at 20:00 (Match Result – Levante 11/10, Draw 23/10, Elche 11/4).

Los Granotes have shown improvement, backing up their shock 1-0 win at Atletico Madrid with a 1-1 draw at Celta Vigo but are still nine points from safety.

The pair’s last two league meetings have ended 1-1 (Correct Score 11/2) and it could be another tight tussle in Valencia.

Friday’s Bundesliga clash sees Hoffenheim aim for a third straight win, which will take them into the top four when they host lowly Stuttgart at 19:30 (Match Result – Hoffenheim 1/2, Draw 18/5, Stuttgart 5/1), while two other European hopefuls meet in Ligue 1 at 20:00.

Montpellier sit ninth in the table, but only three points behind opponents Rennes in fifth and the Breton club have a poor record on the road, losing their last four away games (Match Result – Montpellier 10/3, Draw 13/5, Rennes 5/6).

Coach Bruno Genesio admits the situation is worrying and is desperate to turn things around in order to help his side achieve the goals they set out fo the season.

Genesio told reporters: “It’s hard to explain but in any case the numbers speak for the last four games.

“We are thinking about a lot of things, we are working and we will have to remedy that if we want to be in the end-of-season objectives.”

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