AC Milan 2-0 Lazio: Five things we learned – Leao brilliance and quality depth

By Ivan Stoev -

After two consecutive wins, somewhat bouncing back from the derby defeat, AC Milan made sure to leave the latter behind by beating Lazio 2-0 on Saturday evening. 

Stefano Pioli selected his usual starting XI, albeit with Yacine Adli getting his second consecutive start due to Rade Krunic’s injury and Simon Kjaer replacing Malick Thiaw, who needed some rest.

The game started off rather boring in the first half, with few interesting moments except when Tijjani Reijnders hit the woodwork in added time as he failed to react quickly and give his team the lead.

In the second half, however, Milan looked better and managed to press high up the pitch forcing their opponents to commit errors. That resulted in some dangerous moments for Milan and around the hour mark, after a lovely sequence, Christian Pulisic found himself on the end of a pass by Rafael Leao and did not disappoint picking up his third goal of the season.

In the 88th minute, it was Leao again with the assist this time for Noah Okafor, who came off the bench and got his second goal after scoring just days before against Cagliari, sealing the three points for his side. Here are five things we learned…

1. Leao to the rescue

The Portuguese winger was rather quiet in the first half but picked up the pace in the second, providing two crucial assists to help his side pick up the win.

He managed to use his explosiveness on both goals and left the defenders for dead, proving just how unstoppable he is when he gets going. Pioli will be counting on the winger to lead Milan against Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday after he was criticised for his display against Newcastle.

2. Midfield dominance

Whilst dominating the middle of the park against Cagliari and Verona is expected, it’s much harder to do so against Lazio, but Milan didn’t disappoint. Adli got his second start and although he started rather slow, the Frenchman improved in the second half and had a crucial part in the opening goal, continuing to showcase his vision and passing range.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek also played well before picking up an injury, while Reinders was regarded as the MOTM by many as he had his part in the first goal and could’ve scored himself on a couple of occasions. It will be interesting to see if Pioli changes the formation against Dortmund or sticks with Adli in front of the defence allowing the Dutchman to go forward more often.

3. Quality depth at last

Adli was given his chance after a long, long wait and has been impressive thus far, whilst Tommaso Pobega had a part in the second goal off the bench and Okafor scored the goal to seal the win after replacing Olivier Giroud.

Yunus Musah and Alessandro Florenzi also played well, with Chukwueze also getting some minutes towards the end. At the back, Pioli had the luxury to rest Thiaw in favour of Kjaer and in the past two games, we also saw that Milan have a backup goalkeeper whom they can count on in Sportiello.

In the squad, Pioli also has Luka Jovic who is not fully fit and Luka Romero, who is just 18 years of age but is starting to get some playing time. Most importantly, Bennacer will be back from his injury at the end of the year and bring even more quality in the middle.

The bottom line is that Pioli has a great group of players that he can rely on and most of them have room for improvement, so the quality is there and it’s up to him to rotate and put up a fight for silverware. Thus far he has done well it’s fair to say.

4. The future is now

Yunus Musah arrived this summer from Valencia and a lot of people were sceptical as to how much he will be able to contribute given his tender age (20 years). Add to that the fact that he played in a struggling Valencia side with no experience in Europe.

The American didn’t get much playing time in the first few games but has featured against Newcastle and the three Serie A games that followed, showing a lot of quality and maturity. He has a good work rate and isn’t afraid to involve himself in the defensive work whilst also finding himself a couple of times in the penalty box.

All in all, it seems that Musah is ready to have an impact now and Pioli will count on him more and more if he continues to perform like he has.

5. A leader at the back

Fikayo Tomori missed the game against Inter, but since then he has helped his team keep three clean sheets out of the last four games and has proven himself to be a leader at the back.

He works well with both Kjaer and Thiaw and compared to last season, when he barely had a few good games in a row, the Englishman has been really solid this time out and the defence really looks different without him in it.

The centre-back is still just 25 years of age which means he has plenty of time to improve given his position, and he’ll be looking to continue this trend against Dortmund on Wednesday.

Tags AC Milan Lazio Serie A


  1. “Depth at last”!

    Adli and Pobega were there last season!

    And this was mostly our first choice starting 11 except for Adli.

    Plus we’ve beaten Lazio 6 of the last 7 home games including last season with the exact same score line!

    It was a good result, we’ve made a good start, things are going well, Pioli has randomly started playing Adli. But we were in the exact same position as this time last season so we need to take it one game at a time or else we’ll be talking about “depth” next summer.

      1. The “quality depth” hasn’t won anything yet unlike our previous “depth” that did.

        And the only reason I point this out is so you’re not all calling for more “depth” in a few short months once the January circus comes round.

        1. Thats a different qualities when we win the scudetto and last season, cant you see that? We are downgrading last season. And i dont need to tell what is RLC and Pulisic achievements, you can google it

        2. “The “quality depth” hasn’t won anything yet unlike our previous “depth” that did. ”

          Well… The won Cagliari. Last year’s b-team failed to beat the crappy teams constantly.

    1. Lasrt season Aside from Tonali/Benacer and Krunic there was no quality/depth in the midfield…

      Enter Musah, Reijnders, RLC and yes, play time for ADli and it’s a completely different midfield. And that’s before Bennacer even comes back to partner up with Reijnders and RLC. Dream Trio.

      I don’t understand your argument.

      1. First this same article referred to Pobega and Adli as part of that “depth”, and both of those players were part of the “depth” from last season.

        And second there is still far too much excitement, which is generally a good thing, but nowadays that excitement can very quickly turn to disappointment and calls for more “depth”.

        Remember if this squad only finishes fourth in a four horse race, and only makes it to the latter stages of the champions league, then there’ll be more calls for more turnover next summer.

        So we need to keep our feet on the ground.

      2. Who told you the midfield last season was Good before injury of bernacer no replacement now the fact his that Loftus cheek is not a midfield that is strong and knows how to control midfielder musah is far highly better than him he has tempo to put Milan midfield to dominance

        1. The same comments were made last season and the season before and the season before and so on, and then the fans turned on players even after they delivered a Scudetto.

          This has been going on for over 15 years now so forgive my scepticism.

          1. dude, you can at least see the quality is different. Yes, Adil and Pobega were there last year. They were younger and probably not as ready as they are now. But you can at least see other examples. Last year, We had Tonali-Bennacer (and let’s say Diaz). Tonali barely rested, Bennacer got injured and CDK, didnt work out. Huge quality drop. Now, look at this year,
            RLC left and enter Musah (quality player)
            Pulisic out, enter Chuck
            Leao Out enter Okafor
            Krunic out enter Adil — more mature now
            that’s all not even counting bennacer is out.
            Last year our only sub was the telegraphed Messias for Saladman or vice-versa.

  2. Adli is our best regista (outside of Bennacer). Spraying passes around the pitch and not backwards. Beast!

    Musah is looking good, he can slot in for RLC. With that being said, heal up dude! You’ve stepped up since playing with this squad, keep it up.

    I thought Florenzi was washed, but he’s stepping up big time, arguably better than Calabria (nothing against him).

    Okafor is a player and Chuk needs better decision making.

    We’re gunna smack Dortmund, let’s go!

    1. I think chuk just needs time, adapting to a new league, new time (almost last to arrive) and the pressure of pulisic being this good.

  3. If only we get this quality depth without selling Tonali. Imagine Tonali-Adli-Reijnders, Musah-Tonali-Reijnders, Musah-Bennacer-Tonali, and so on. sigh…

    1. Yep, Tonali has recently been dropped to the bench for the League matches (replaced by former backup Sean Longstaff) and he is now only starting in the Cup matches.
      He’s still struggling with the fast pace and physicality of the Premier League.
      Longstaff isn’t as skilled as Tonali, but he is a very hard charging and physical player.

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