After the bad performance against Newcastle on Tuesday, the Portuguese led the Rossoneri to victory. This time also as captain: “Special day”. Pioli: “It’s something we all wanted for him”
24 September – MILAN
And to think that it had started with what might even have seemed like a provocation: an attempt to free himself with his heel – again unsuccessful – on the touchline, after five minutes. San Siro perplexed, although at the same time happy to see Rafa Leao with the armband.
After everything that had happened in the cup, it was certainly something significant. Of course, Pioli’s choice was decidedly facilitated by the concomitant absence of Calabria (the starting captain) and Hernandez (the deputy). Let’s say it was a decision halfway between the clear message from the coach – this boy is an asset to the club, he is studying to become a champion and must be supported – and the length of service that is usually observed in these cases. Rafa also had to go around the pitch with referee Maresca and yellow-blue captain Faraoni to test the ball after the storm. Even in those moments, the Rossoneri number 10 was smiling. Perhaps imagining that the air, made decidedly crisp by the hailstorm, would also be so afterwards thanks to him.
in the space
It took him eight minutes to catch up with everything and everyone. Time to be launched magnificently – as often happens – by Giroud into space, in depth, as he likes. When Leao flies towards someone else’s door like this, it becomes an almost unappealable sentence. He slipped between Magnani and Dawidowicz and, when Montipò shortened towards him to try to close the mirror, she slipped it into the corner. No strange things, no games. Just concreteness. A goal that San Siro was anxiously awaiting because sometimes, after distortions like the one against Newcastle, the risk is of wrapping yourself up. Leao scored, celebrated with joy, was overwhelmed by his teammates and, for the moment, has partially solved the collective goal problem. Afterwards, Pulisic, Musah and Jovic (he was offside, but the error remains) remained along the lines of the Champions League: tempting opportunities remained unanswered.
mall in goal
Rafa scores and in reality, looking at his seasonal trend, it is nothing new at all. We’re talking about it simply because this was the match after the cup mistake. For the rest, everything was normal: third consecutive match in net for him – Roma, Inter, Verona – who had never achieved such a long streak in Serie A. But that is not all. Milan, afflicted by an obvious goal problem, have only scored twice in their last three outings. Both with Rafa. “I think the negativity around my players is exaggerated a bit – said Pioli after the match -. Sometimes he starts less well at the start of the game and then grows, today he started very well and then sometimes he ‘went out’, but he is making his way. He must be happy and he is: he feels good with everyone, he feels good with this shirt, he feels good with the club, he feels good with the fans and with us. He must know that when he becomes a great footballer you also have to endure high expectations.”
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But, at the same time, the satisfactions are also high: “Special day for having represented this club as captain, great match from everyone, let’s move forward together and united”, Rafa wrote on social media, after Pioli had underlined a fundamental concept : “We all wanted him to be captain, because we base ourselves on attitudes. We are all together to overcome delicate moments together. It is normal to suffer criticism and pressure and he is doing it well. At the beginning he didn’t know whether to go onto the pitch in slippers or with shoes… The hug with me is for the whole team and for all my teammates.”
September 24 – 09:36
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