GdS: Leao vs. Dybala, Giroud vs. Lukaku – Milan-Roma a ‘festival of goals’

By Isak Möller -

AC Milan will be up against Roma in the Europa League quarter-finals and with both teams in rather good form recently, it should be an exciting one. Indeed, there are several key players for both sides, as a report highlights. 

The draw for the Europa League quarter-finals took place yesterday and Milan got Roma, with a Euroderby now on the cards. This means that there will be at least one Italian team in the semi-finals, but the question is which.

How the teams play

As highlighted by today’s edition of Gazzetta dello Sport (see photo below), there will be a few high-quality battles in the clash. Leao against Dybala, Giroud against Lukaku. If we want, Pulisic against El Shaarawy, Loftus-Cheek against Pellegrini.

These will be the long-distance attacking duels, as the newspaper continues, which will likely decide the outcome of the tie. Milan scored 12 goals in the last two Europa League rounds, compared to Roma’s 6. However, the Giallorossi conceded just 3 goals as opposed to the Rossoneri’s 6.

Of course, these numbers must be taken with a grain of salt for various reasons, but they express a certain tendency. Daniele De Rossi’s Roma seemingly still has an emphasis on the defence, while Stefano Pioli relies on many goals to clinch victories.

Milan always field three pure attackers, with Pulisic on the right, Giroud in the centre and Leao on the left flank. Pulisic has found himself after what was a tough last season at Chelsea and the same can be said about Loftus-Cheek, who continues to score in the Europa League.

Roma, meanwhile, have had various formations but if we take a look at the Europa League, they have always used a 4-3-3. Lorenzo Pellegrini is a bit like Roma’s Loftus-Cheek. He finishes more and scores less, but the concept is the same, the extra man up front, the raider through the central routes.

Dybala starts from the right to cut inside, shifting onto his left foot and shooting, which always seems to be effective. Lukaku, injured these days, plays in the centre. El Shaarawy runs stretches the play on the left, crosses and shoots, and works tirelessly.

Two strong centre-forwards

Giroud against Lukaku, a script that has been played out many times in the Premier League, but most of all in the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. France against Belgium, which the former won by the odd goal.

Lukaku is more powerful, but Giroud is more acrobatic. The left-footed shot is Lukaku’s favourite finish, while Giroud is a master of headers. The 30-year-old Lukaku has scored more than the 37-year-old Giroud, 381 goals against 339, including the senior national teams.

However, the figures are open to interpretation and never express absolute truths. For example, Giroud is a world champion, Lukaku is not. Giroud won a Champions League with Chelsea, Lukaku didn’t.

The creative ones

The two No.10s of the teams, Leao and Dybala, are genius but in different ways. Dybala is a classic attacking midfielder, almost finding space in between and putting the opponents in difficulties. Leao is more modern, playing above all with joy and skill, and his potential seems to be endless.

There is no doubt that the battle of the No.10s, even if Dybala actually wears the No.21 shirt, will be decisive for the game. When we speak of tight affairs, it’s the creative players who can make the difference, creating something out of nothing and leading the rest of the team.

Tags AC Milan Roma
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