AC Milan secured a 1-0 win against Hellas Verona on Serie A Matchday 5 thanks to a goal from their star winger Rafael Leao, with the Portuguese winger bouncing back from two underwhelming performances against Inter and Newcastle United and subsequent criticism.
On a wet Saturday afternoon in Milan, referee Fabio Maresca had to delay the kick-off for 25 minutes. Once the match proceeded, it proved to be a very dour affair in which the Rossoneri struggled to get into any sort of rhythm, and they needed some magic from stand-in captain Leao to get the team over the line.
Leao gets back to taking care of business for AC Milan
Captain in the absence of Davide Calabria and Theo Hernandez, Leao demonstrated his ability to lift the team by scoring the only goal of the game after eight minutes.
Olivier Giroud was able to slip the ball into the path of the Portuguese winger, who sprinted towards goal and he was able to calmly put the ball into the net with his left foot. The 24-year-old showed some more bursts of speed throughout the game, demonstrating both his pace and dribbling ability to beat defenders, but he was not able to add to his tally.
Leao has scored three goals in five Serie A matches so far in 2023/24, which shows that he has had a decent start to the season despite his team’s recent hiccups.
Pioli’s 3-4-3 experiment failed to create cohesion
After losing 5-1 to Inter on the previous Serie A matchday and being held to a scoreless draw against Newcastle in the Champions League, AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli needed to make alterations to his team. In addition to those underwhelming results, Pioli had to deal with a few absentees.
With full-backs Calabria and Theo sidelined, and the likes of Pierre Kalulu and Mike Maignan also injured, Pioli switched to a 3-4-3 formation with Yunus Musah and Alessandro Florenzi. With these changes in mind and a waterlogged pitch to deal with, Milan struggled to develop a flowing game and looked predictable on the ball.
Although they did win the game, it was due to Leao’s individual brilliance than the effectiveness of the system. Hellas Verona showed some endeavour at times, and they could have broken down the Rossoneri defence if they had more quality in the team.
Folorunsho’s presence felt for Hellas Verona
A – mostly – gallant performer for Hellas Verona in the defeat to AC Milan, Michael Folorunsho posed a threat to the Rossoneri in the middle of the pitch.
The midfielder, on loan from Napoli, operated as a central midfielder in the 3-4-2-1 formation and he was capable of breaking up the play of opposition as well as creating it for his own team.
Folorunsho completed 90% of his passes, made four successful tackles, and took three shots. Most of those passes were important in getting his teammates into advanced positions so they could generate scoring chances. He was, though, to blame for conceding possession for the game’s only goal.
Despite not registering a goal or an assist yet this season, the 25-year-old should be adding to his tally shortly if he maintains his superb work ethic.