Rafael Leao seems to like a game against Juventus and has done ever since his first meeting with them over five years ago.
La Gazzetta dello Sport recall how back in the 2017-18 edition of the UEFA Youth League Leao’s Sporting CP went to Turin and annihilated Juventus with a 4-1 win in which the forward scored twice.
The story was told in an interview with La Gazzetta by Tiago Fernandes, the former coach of Rafa, who took things back to 18 October 2017.
“Leao scored two goals, won a penalty and even produced an assist. At the end of the game Nedved stops me and compliments him. He says the team is excellent, that we deserved to win, then he dwells on Leao. ‘That boy is strong’, he admits. He was right,” he said.
Leao was then the star performer also in Sporting’s 2-0 win in the return leg – getting a goal and an assist – with his good run of form against the Bianconeri continuing. A move to Lille would follow, and then he made the switch to Milan.
On 7 July 2020, Milan faced Juventus in those strange few months post-Covid. Maurizio Sarri’s team went 2-0 up with Rabiot and Ronaldo, but then Ibrahimovic scored a penalty, Kessie equalised and Leao sealed the comeback before Rebic put the game to bed.
Leao played the last half hour on the right that day and scored his first goal against a top Serie A side. A small satisfaction, against the team that would eventually win the Scudetto.
So far, Rafa has crossed paths with Juventus seven times as a Milan player, with six being in the league and one in the cup. The record reads two wins, two defeats and three draws.
In addition to an assist for Calabria in the 3-1 defeat in January 2021, last October he was once again the protagonist as he created plenty and hit the post with a sensational effort.
He faced Danilo that night, who a few months later – on the occasion of the 100 appearances for Juve – made the following admission: “It’s not easy to defend against Leao. He’s one of those I like to face the most.” On Sunday, they will meet again.