Sleepless Pioli demands Milan improvement against Inter in Cup

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FILE PHOTO: Serie A - AC Milan v Atalanta

(Reuters) - AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli has demanded a reaction from his team against Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia after spending a sleepless night reviewing their weekend defeat by Atalanta.

Milan suffered their heaviest defeat of the season when they were thrashed 3-0 by the Bergamo club at San Siro on Saturday, but remain two points clear of Inter at the top of Serie A.

Pioli has had little time to assess the performance ahead of Tuesday's quarter-final meeting, which will serve as a dress rehearsal for the crucial Milan derby league clash on Feb. 21.

“The next derby is in a month, with other important games before then, so this is just a Coppa Italia match, an important quarter-final that we’re looking to face in the best way possible,” Pioli told Milan TV on Monday.

“The desire is to return to the pitch with a positive performance. This is a competition that we care about, we’ll do everything to go all the way.”

Milan put in one of their worst performances of the season at home to Atalanta as they were outplayed by the visitors in their second league defeat of the season.

“I didn’t sleep because I re-watched the match,” he said.

“In my job it’s important to communicate to the squad the next day. I sleep little after games, both wins and defeats, because I think knowing what to say to the team is the most important thing.

“We don’t have much time and we’re playing a lot, so the communication needs to be immediate.”

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Ken Ferris)