GdS: Wins, goals and leadership – Milan’s internationals respond to the call

By Oliver Fisher -

There was a time a few years ago where AC Milan did not have many internationals called up and when they were they hardly ever starred for their countries, but now that has all changed.

As La Gazzetta dello Sport recalls, the international break often sees players leave healthy and return bruised (Ismael Bennacer and Simon Kjaer this time around, though both seem to be ok), but other times they return happy and mentally revved up.

The most iconic case of the last few days is that of Tijjani Reijnders, who is enjoying a high-level season with the Rossoneri. He was called up by Ronald Koeman for the Netherlands’ double friendly test against Scotland and Germany, and against the Scots he scored his first international goal.

It was a lovely finish too: a sharp right-footed shot under the crossbar from long range which in terms of preparation and method was reminiscent of the one against Slavia Prague (with the difference that in that case the shot went along the floor).

Above all, the words after the match were striking. Those of Reijnders and even more so those of coach Koeman: “He plays so easily, he has light feet, as we say. He has become a great player in a very short time, he cannot be left out of the national team.”

That is a quality of compliments at a level you don’t often see. Tijjani then added: “I immediately felt very comfortable with the Dutch team. Here I have the same role as at Milan, so I was able to integrate my game well into that of the national team.”

Another protagonist of this latest round of internationals ahead of the European Championship was Rafael Leao. He scored against Sweden with a super goal, a right-footed shot with power and precision.

It was an obvious improvement for a player who, in general, still has some work to do on his shooting. This year Rafa finds himself particularly in a comfort zone on the European stage and in any case what he had to show to Roberto Martinez, he showed.

He showed it to the extent that the Portuguese coach left him free to return home – or rather to Milanello – after the match against the Swedes, together with other team-mates, because he already knows who he can rely on and now wants to look at the others.

Some players will return with less energy. Christian Pulisic for example played 120 minutes against Jamaica as coach Gregg Berhalter didn’t spare him even a second, although it must be said that this was the semi-final of the Concacaf Nations League, so a title is at stake.

Captain America did not score, but caused the Jamaican own-goal from a corner which allowed the USA to go to extra-time and earn passage to the final against Mexico in the early hours of tomorrow morning. Yunus Musah played just 63 minutes, but he too is now a fixed point in the USA midfield.

A note on Olivier Giroud too. At the beginning of the second half of France-Germany the fans in Lyon began to invoke Monsieur Olivier as the saviour of the country, after seeing Marcus Thuram struggle.

Giroud even came close to scoring at the end, reminding everyone – as he always does at Milan – that up until now he is coming out on top in the battle with the registry office.


Tags AC Milan Christian Pulisic Olivier Giroud Rafael Leao Tijjani Reijnders Yunus Musah


  1. Nice goals by Reijnders and Leao.
    On a side note, Thuram looks bad every time he has to play as the solo striker. He was awful again yesterday.
    Inter did Milan a favor by overpaying him, and Thuram was smart to pick the team whose system fits his game best. He would have been another Origi under Pioli.

      1. I understand Leao not being suited to a LM or whatever (I presume we’d need to play 352, 442 or 424 if we were to play two upfront) but I cannot understand this myth about a striker not being able to play as a lone striker.

        First the reason Leao can’t be expected to play a more defensive role is obvious. But whether a striker plays with one or two should make no difference.

        Second nowadays very few teams play with two upfront including youth teams so where are these strikers coming from that have never played as lone strikers!

        Third two upfront requires the strikers to move more into the flanks, or at least away from central areas or get involved in the play. This myth seems particularly pervasive for big strikers who would struggle to involve themselves in the play in other ways. I mean what is Thuram if not the definition of a Big Man Up Top?

        Fourth related to the above is when teams play with one striker it allows deeper players to make runs forward and run onto balls from……Big Man Up Top.

        This mythology seems to be driven by this obsession with pigeon holing players which then drives even more activity in everyone’s favourite part of the season – the transfer market.

        1. “I cannot understand this myth about a striker not being able to play as a lone striker.”

          Not a myth. Just a simple fact that anyone who has played the game and understands anything about it realized. But don’t feel bad even if you are the only one who doesn’t get it.

          PS. Just because YOU don’t understand something doesn’t make it a “myth”. 😉

          1. ‘Fact’?

            As in a fact like m = ec2 or ‘fact’ being a person unable to distinguish between opinions and facts?

            I’m going to go with the latter.

            Now, as someone who has played t lhe game at a reasonable level, can you explain to me why a striker cannot play with another striker?

  2. “can you explain to me why a striker cannot play with another striker”

    Striker cannot play with a another striker? Why change subjects? I have never heard of such dilemma. 🙂

    1. Well done.

      It was a typo.

      But you clearly don’t have an answer. So I guess it’s another myth/receiving wisdom/people talking rubbish on the internet.

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