Giornale: An assist, a goal and smiles – Pioli’s decision lights a spark in Leao

By Oliver Fisher -

Stefano Pioli made some bold calls with his starting line-up last night, but it seemed to draw out the reaction that he hoped for from some of his key players, in particular Rafael Leao.

As Il Giornale (via MilanNews) writes this morning, when the official line-ups for Milan-Cagliari came out last night there were some rather notable absences in the Milan side, such as Davde Calabria, Fikayo Tomori, Theo Hernandez and above all Leao.

The Portuguese winger entered the field at the beginning of the second half and did so with the right attitude and spirit, giving the necessary turning point to the match thanks to his dynamism and quality.

It was immediately clear that Leao had come on with the desire to do damage when Christian Pulisic’s cross from the right was met by the former Lille man at the far post but he hit the bar. Shortly after, the Portuguese gave an assist to the American for the goal to make it 2-0.

In the 83rd minute Leao got his name on the scoresheet with one of his usual bursts that cut the Cagliari defence in two. A wonderful ball in behind from Bennacer set him up, but he did well to steady himself, round the goalkeeper and slot in to make it 4-1.

Starting the game on the bench perhaps triggered something in Leao after the latest disappointing performances and the jeers at San Siro when he was substituted against Genoa.

Tags AC Milan Rafael Leao


  1. When Leao is in the mood, he is an absolutely terrifying prospect for defenders. Tall, fast and extremely strong, with great touch – I just hope Milan’s next coach can bring his huge talent to fruition. I don’t think he should be stuck out on the left, it makes his runs too predictable.

    1. Then where do you think he will fit? His skill set is that of a pacy winger. He needed space to dribble and out pace the defender, unlike someone like Messi or Bernardo Silva. Therefore role in the middle of attack/spearhead the attack did not work for him. Especially in Serie A where most of the team will put low block against us.

      He is great at dribble and run into space, but his finishing and hold up play as striker leave many to be desired. Without sufficient space he is not much a threat, as can be seen earlier this season when he played much closer to the front. His aerial threat also terrible considering his height and power.

      In my opinion, right now he is strictly a winger – one that like to cut inside and score the goal with stronger foot. Is he able to play as striker? Maybe, but Imo right now he is not good enough as a striker for Milan. He need someone that tell him what to do as a striker. Maybe he can watch and learn how Mbappe, Owen, or even Pato played as central striker.

      1. I think what he meant is that he should be drifting around more which should make him less predictable and especially less easier to be man mark but still starting as a LW, like last night were he’s scored with a run from CF position and also assisting a bit away from the LW position

        1. That’s not from CF position – that’s from a rapid counter attack, where many players position become obsolete, and he is running from right wing.

          The point is, he needed space to be devastating, from either wing or counters… He looked lost before when played as main CF or even close to middle.

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