GdS: Leao’s smile returns as performance for Portugal sends a message to Pioli

By Oliver Fisher -

The international break has provided some positives for AC Milan and among the main ones is Rafael Leao’s exploits for Portugal last night.

La Gazzetta dello Sport write how Leao has gone over two months without scoring for Milan and thus did not get a start in either of Portugal’s game, but he came off the bench for the last 15 minutes of the 6-0 win against Luxembourg last night, when the score was 4-0.

He replaced Joao Felix on the left wing and within a couple of minutes he provided an assist for Otavio who netted with a header. Then, he surged towards the byline and went down under contact from Jans inside the area, but saw his penalty well saved by Moris.

Leao frowned but in the 89th minute he got his goal, cutting in from the left wing with one of his usual jinking dribbles, dropping a couple of Luxembourg players to the floor almost as if they were skittles before finishing into the bottom corner.

Rafa’s smile returned and it also sent a message to Stefano Pioli in the process, showing that starting on the wing is his best position to create and remain unpredictable. A long time has passed since he last scored for the Rossoneri in the 2-2 draw on January 14th against Lecce, and Pioli needs him back at his best.

Tags AC Milan Rafael Leao


  1. What’s the message he actually sent Pioli?
    That if he can only play vs semi pro players every week he might even be considered a very good player.
    He didn’t even start in the game vs inferior opponent. This is 2nd NT coach that doesn’t consider him a starter.
    He came in the game after the game was over and Portugal up 4-0.
    This reminds me of the game at the WC where he came at 85th minute vs Poland, when the score was already 5-1 for Portugal, scored a meaningless garbage time goal and we had his fans come in here commenting how great he is.
    Look at the context, the opponent, the timing, don’t just grasp at straws.
    Same goes for people hyping up Tonali 2 assists vs Malta.
    Right away we were reading Pioli doesn’t know how to use him. When in reality he also played vs inferior team, he somehow finally managed to send a cross from corner that cleared the first defender on the 1st goal and on the 2nd it was accidental assist.
    Let’s see if there form vs semi pro competition will translate into games vs actual professional footballers

    1. Lol. Possibly true. What if it’s a bit of both though? What if he really is better on the wing? Ultimately Leao should play where he is most effective. Even if his max effectiveness isn’t “world class” at the end of the day, it’s higher on the wing than inside, and what we need is to get the most out of our players their actual ceiling notwithstanding.

      1. Bro, that would be a good argument if Leao started and played well on the wing from the 1st minute vs. quality competition. He came when the game was already decided. Played like 15 minutes. You can’t judge his role or performance based on that.

        1. I meant overall. He was Serie A MVP last season, wasn’t he? And he was playing on the wing. Yes, I know he was playing in the same position and during the first half of the season and was playing less well than last season, but his form has REALLY tanked since we switched formation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Leao fanboy, I’m just saying that whatever his level actually is, it’s likelier to be reached on the wing than as a second striker or false 9 or whatever Pioli thinks he has him playing as in the 3-4-2-1.

          1. Leao form was bad even prior to the switch of the formation, and with the new formation its not like he is playing in a totally different position, he is still on the left side and now he even has more freedom and less responsibility. Using the formation change is just a cop out. He has been figured out by his opponents, he is very predictable. It’s that simple.
            He surprised teams last season, they watched film on him, saw his tendencies and now they are easily stopping him. Big players every season come with a new move or a skill, they improve because coaches and defenders adjust to them and try to take away your strenghts. Leao isn’t improving.

  2. Context is everything and yes he played against a mediocre team and assisted snd scored when Portugal was already 4 goals up. But jesus, you all love bashing him and seeing none of the positives. Just be happy he was able to taste the feeling of contributing and even scoring again after so long. This helps his confidence and is a plus for him to hopefully start performing well when hes back at Milan. Chill the heck out guys

    1. I am going to say it again get rid of him and get the money before it’s to late he plays when he wants to play and then he’s to lazy to even run.lets see what he does against Napoli.

    2. It’s kind of what I’m trying to say above from a tactical perspective. Play him where he’s best, even if his best is mediocre, or a 7 or however people want to rate him. It makes no sense playing ANY player in a position where they can’t be their best regardless of that level being world class or average. If Leao is able to once again use the space to make dangerous runs into the box from the left it matters not if his shots ultimately don’t go in or his passes are misplaced (ideally he scores and assists obviously) because it creates a threat that the opposition has to pay attention to which in turn means his teammates will find space and opportunities. It is 11 v 11 after all, and not Leao v 11.

Comments are closed

Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.