AC Milan need to build their attack around Rafael Leao

Date: 24th January 2022 at 9:00am
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In the aftermath of the dramatic late defeat against Spezia, marked by the referee’s controversial call, it was hard to tell how AC Milan were going to react to such a blow in their upcoming match against Juventus.

In fact, the Bianconeri were probably amongst the worst possible opponents to take on at this time, their squad boasting several experienced players that know well how to handle those high-tension games. In the end, though, neither impressed in a scoreless draw.


Yet, Rossoneri’s response to their difficulties was once again good, as the fresh memories of a painful loss didn’t stop them from entering the pitch at the Stadio San Siro on Sunday with the same confidence and determination that have become a trademark of the Diavolo side under Stefano Pioli.

In spite of having some crucial players ruled out in Franck Kessie and Fikayo Tomori, the likes of Sandro Tonali and Davide Calabria, as well as an excellent – and Forza Italian Football’s Player of the Match – Rafael Leao, stepped forward to lead the battle and try to help their boss get his first victory against Massimiliano Allegri.

As strange as it could seem, an overall decent display, notably in the first half, seemed hampered by some of theIR most prominent offensive players.


Before walking off the pitch with an injury after 28 minutes, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s contribution was limited to a few touches that were unlikely to make a difference against a solid Juventus defence, especially when coupled with a lack of dynamism that few teams can afford in today’s fast-paced game.

While the Swede’s presence alone is still enough to scare many opponents, things seem to change in the high-profile fixtures and against the strongest sides, which see Ibrahimovic struggle to be effective as his play becomes more and more predictable.

Unfortunately for the Rossoneri, things didn’t change with Olivier Giroud’s entrance. As the 35-year-old proved easy to control for Juventus’ centre-backs, his ability in the link-up play was not enough to open cracks in their defensive wall.

Add Brahim Diaz’s dip in form, which has been lasting for 2 months now and not helped by him having had COVID-19, and it’s clear how Rafael Leao is currently the only constantly reliable attacking option for Stefano Pioli.

However, as talented as the Portuguese has proven in recent months, his wide position makes it hard for him to increase his goal tally, as he often needs to dribble his way past two, three, or even four different players before creating shooting chances.

In a team that is packed with young and energetic players who thrive at a fast pace, relying on a static central striker is detrimental.

Taking into account the strikers that every team in the Serie A top-eight sides can boast – the list includes names like Dusan Vlahovic, Ciro Immobile, Duvan Zapata, Lautaro Martinez, Paulo Dybala, Luis Muriel, Victor Osimhen, and Tammy Abraham – all of whom would be a huge upgrade for the Rossoneri.

It is probably too late to fix such issue in the current January transfer market, but Paolo Maldini and the club directors should consider targeting a modern central forward who is both able to deliver the goals and to constantly move along the offensive line in order to create space and combine with his teammates, an approach that players like Leao would certainly benefit from, increasing his chances of scoring and bringing AC Milan’s offensive play to the next level.

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