When the Azzurri are in danger, Pepe Reina puts on his hat and makes an impression
Pepe Reine’s first match back as Milan coach was an emphatic victory over Juventus in their opening match of the Serie A season.
Reina put the visitors ahead through an amazing solo goal, but it was his defensive display that earned him the nickname “Pepe Reina’s Pepe”.
The striker had previously been the target of criticism for his lack of defensive discipline, but he was back on top with a clean sheet and a goal.
The result was a major boost for the Rossoneri who had struggled to build a foothold in the top six during the winter transfer window.
Despite missing the opening five games of the campaign, Reina was named in the starting XI against the Nerazzurri and has been instrumental in helping the Rossoni to their best start to a Serie A campaign since their inception in 1996.
Reine’s form this season has been remarkable, with the former Juventus captain scoring in each of his last two games, including the opening 1-0 win over Sassuolo on Sunday.
After starting the season with three consecutive league wins, the Rossonese have been in the relegation zone after three defeats and two draws.
A win against the Juve on Wednesday would secure the title, while a win at Lazio on Wednesday night would secure a spot in the Champions League.
Maurizio Sarri is hoping that the results of his side’s Champions League tie against Roma on Thursday night will convince him to keep his side in Serie A.
Despite having three players in the final 24, Milan have won just one of their past nine league games and have been beaten in each game.
Mourinho said he was “really pleased” with his team’s recent form and that they would “continue to improve”.
The former Milan boss said he wanted to see his players “continue in the same way” as he has “tried to do in the past” with the “tendency” to play in the air.
“I don’t want to see us play in a way that is dangerous, I want to be in a position where we can play in our own half, defend and attack,” Mourinho said.
This is a very important time in the season, and if we can be better this season then I’m sure we can do a lot better.”