Leao reflects on first leg mistakes, where he can improve and advice from Dybala

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan winger Rafael Leao has addressed what went wrong in the first leg against Roma, as well as the notion that it is a battle between himself and Paulo Dybala.

How Milan’s 2023-24 season is viewed will inevitably depend on the return leg of the Europa League quarter-final clash against Roma scheduled for Thursday at 21:00 CEST at the Stadio Olimpico.

Despite being on the pitch for 78 minutes of the 1-0 first leg defeat, Leao was a symbol of the team’s performance in a negative way because he was never in the game and provided virtually nothing of note.

He actually left the field to jeers, but they might have mainly been expressions of discontent that he was brought off. Nonetheless, the Portuguese winger will have a burning desire to show that he can lead Milan in the decisive moments.

Leao spoke alongside head coach Stefano Pioli at the pre-match press conference on the eve of the second leg in the capital, and his comments were relayed by MilanNews.

How are you feeling on the eve of the game?

“All of us, even me, didn’t do well in the first leg and we lost. But we found confidence again in Reggio Emilia, because we showed energy, we didn’t give up. After Sassuolo we were all together in the dressing room, we spoke, we know the importance of this match. Now we have two matches that are very important for this season.”

How did you feel after the first leg?

“I was disappointed, because I could have done more, not because I didn’t try. Then there are matches where you’re there and you’re not there, so you grow.”

The media are talking about a battle between you and Paulo Dybala…

“I don’t like these comparisons. In my opinion Dybala is very strong, I like him, it gives me joy to see him, he does different things. In modern football there are few players who do different things. After the match he spoke to me , he gave me advice, I have a good relationship with him. We are both strong.”

Do you feel like a leader, doing this important press conference?

“It could have been someone else, but yes. I want to be a leader not here, but on the field.”


How do you respond to criticism?

“I think with challenges, then you’re at Milan. There is criticism. If we’re here it’s because we have quality, but the pressure we have on us is good.”

What was missing in the first leg?

“It was the details, they were stronger in the details. Tomorrow will be a new match. We will have to make fewer mistakes.”

Do you show more effort when you have to fight?

“In my opinion I learned in Italy to play different football. I have to find the best form on the pitch to resolve this defect, I have to improve. But I learn every day.”

Last week, the Celik-El Shaarawy double team caused you issues…

“It’s a challenge for me. I’ll have to find a way to get through with my team-mates. In my opinion it will be a different game. Then it’s not just an individual thing: when the team is well, my talent and all my qualities come out.”

Will you play for Pioli?

“We play for all of us. For Milan. If we play well, we are happy, for the coach and everyone who works at Milan.”

Tags AC Milan Rafael Leao Roma Milan

1 Comment

  1. ‘All of us, even me, didn’t do well in the first leg and we lost.’

    It should be;
    ‘All of us, moreover me, didn’t do well in the first leg and we lost.’

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