Rafael Leao has passed his latest fitness test and he will be available against Newcastle United, but it is a race against time to have him fit enough to start.
La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below) talks about Milan’s ‘strange destiny’ when it comes to Leao and the Champions League. In May he injured his adductor shortly before the first leg derby in the semi-final, two years ago he injured his hamstring before the match against Liverpool.
Leao, prince of dribbling in the Champions League with 54 in the last two editions (only Vinicius and Kvaratskhelia keep pace) is hoping to be back on Wednesday night for the match that will decide the fate of Milan in Europe and perhaps for the whole the season.
His absence in the away match in Bergamo was a precaution, the last gesture of prudence decided by the player, technical staff and medical staff before the big return. Yesterday’s dreess rehearsals confirmed what had already been in the air at Milanello for a few days: Leao is well, the injury to his right hamstring is behind him and on Wednesday Pioli will have him back.
Yesterday Leao played the two 20-minute halves in the practice match organised specifically for him: on one side Rafa and the reserves from the Atalanta game, on the other a Primavera and Under 18 team. The sensations are good, the response of his muscle was good too.
It remains to be understood if Pioli will start him at St. James’ Park or if he will instead use him during the game, because Rafa’s autonomy is still limited. The balance leans towards the first hypothesis: Giroud’s missed penalty against Dortmund teaches, in England it will be necessary to start on the right foot.
Milan without Leao: average points of 1.14, score 1.28 goals per game and collapse. With Rafa the Rossoneri average 1.91 points, scores 1.62 goals per game and are capable of doing great things. Ask PSG.