CorSera: Milan will be without Leao against Empoli – Pioli’s plan to replace him

By Oliver Fisher -

One of the few sour notes from AC Milan’s win over Lazio on Friday night was that Rafael Leao picked up a yellow card meaning that he will serve a one-game suspension.

As Corriere della Sera (via MilanNews) writes, Leao’s ban only applies to league games and thus he will be available on Thursday night for the first leg of the Europa League round of 16 tie against Slavia Praha.

However, on Sunday afternoon Milan play at home against Empoli and Pioli will have to make do without Leao who will serve his one-game suspension after he was booked on Friday against Lazio, his fifth yellow of the season.

As the paper adds, replacing the Portuguese winger is actually quite an easy choice for Pioli as he will go with Noah Okafor, who was decisive off the bench against the Biancocelesti as he scored the winner with just a couple of minutes left.

The Swiss forward has reached five goals this season and he seems to be a talisman for the Rossoneri because when he scores Milan win. He netted in the games against Cagliari, Lazio, Monza, Udinese and Lazio again, with each of those games resulting in three points.


Tags AC Milan Noah Okafor Rafael Leao


  1. Any game without Leao spells danger if we go by the numbers. But I’d say Pioli should go with Pulisic and play Musah or Chukwuz on the right!

    1. Agree, oka4 in the lw is a mistake, all his worst play has come from that position. Let puli create with Theo on that side and see if Chuck can make something happen on the right. I get that chuck may be a liability defensively so maybe musah like you said.

      1. Pioli needs to stop using Musah as a jack of all trades and needs to consistently play him in one of the two deep midfield positions. That’s where he belongs and where he should be getting time to further grow.

        1. Totally agree, but Okafor plays well as a 2nd striker not as a winger, probably a change of formation might be good, where the RW is abandoned. A 3412 may work, we have many defenders back now, tomori-gabbia-kjaer (Simic,kalulu,thiaw- sub)
          Theo-adli-musah-calabria (bennacer,RLC -subs)
          Reijnders (Pulisic, chukweze,RLC as subs)
          Okafor- Giroud (jovic sub)
          Just my thoughts though, with this, the players can still play to their utmost strength, not too many strange players that can disable team chemistry and most of all, keys players that would play on Thursday would be able to get some rest

          1. Perhaps, but it’s still a big change in system, but Jovic will also be available again, so that might be useful in your situation. I think the solution is just to play Okafor at LW. Otherwise play Puli at LW, which is his natural position and give Chuk a chance at RW.

    2. Musah played as a winger and did not impress. Chuk hasn’t shown much. So it makes complete sense to field OK5 and Puli on the wings.

  2. No the line up is
    Florenzi, Kjaer, Gabbia, Theo Hernandez
    Benercer, rejnder
    Chukwueze, Okafor, pulisic
    100% this line up can give us victory against Empoli over sure

    1. As long as Okafor and jovic are in the box, I’m more than sure they would get goals from rebounds. I agree on that too

  3. OK5 needs to step the eff up this game as a starter. Supersubs are fine of course, but he was signed as a vice Leao and needs to start showing more from the first minute.

    If I were Pioli I would have Pulisic and OK5 constantly change sides as to not provide a reference point to the other team. Curious how we do without the 10.

  4. We won’t do very well without Rafa, which is something that Rafa’s critics don’t understand: even when he doesn’t shine, he still attracts double or even triple marking, freeing space for the other forwards.

    Okafor is supposed to be his LW deputy but has played much better as a striker than as a winger so I’m worried. Given that I don’t expect much from the left wing for this game, we’ll depend on Puli having a great game from the right, which he is capable of. Forza Pulisic!

    Yes, Ideally when Rafa doesn’t play, we’d have Puli as a left winger and someone else as a right winger but the problem is, we don’t have anybody good as a deputy right winger; Chuk by now doesn’t inspire any confidence and I must say that he does look a lot like a bust, although it’s still his first Serie A season. But for me, it doesn’t look like it is a question of first season but rather one of lack of skills, and I don’t see much possibility of a sudden acquisition of the needed skills, in subsequent seasons. A right winger that has only a left foot is something that I can’t comprehend.

    Chuk is extremely predictable. He either loses the ball, or tries to go left to attempt a left-footed shot. He doesn’t really go deep for crosses using the right foot, into the box. So any left back who has seen him playing knows what to do to completely neutralize him. This way, he is a rather useless player. I think we should sell him and buy a better right winger to function as Puli’s deputy.

    Musah as right winger? No. As others said, Pioli moves him around too much so he never develops in one position. I think defensive midfielder is his best position, although he is no Kessier.

    What irritates me is that Rafa’s fourth yellow card was a racist one. Minimal, really minimal dissent, and he got a yellow, when white players get away with much much much worse. The fifth one though, he fully deserved, for a blatant tactical foul. So thanks to Italian refs’ racism, we are handicapped for this game.

  5. Okafor-Giroud-Pulisic or Pulisic-Giroud-Chukwueze should both work fine vs Empoli. The first one would be more logical according to form. The second one more logical according to the players natural position. I would go with the second and let Okafor come on for Giroud after 60 min as he need some rest if hes starting vs Slavia Prague as well.

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