AC Milan winger Rafael Leao discussed tomorrow’s derby against Inter and the various match-ups on the pitch in an interview in today’s paper edition of the Rome based newspaper Corriere dello Sport.
“It will be a difficult game. We will have to play it with the right heart and head. We want to defend our shirt, give satisfaction to the fans and have a good performance.”
He touched on how much he will give to the team in tomorrow’s match.
“My dribbling, my passes, everything. I’m aiming to give my best and, if technically something doesn’t go well, I’ll try to compensate with character, spirit of sacrifice and commitment.”
The 21-year-old Portuguese forward commented on his strong performance against the Nerazzurri in their first derby match this season.
“It’s true, I did well and provided an assist for Ibra. I was very happy with that performance, but it’s already part of the past.”
The former Lille forward was not concerned about last weekend’s loss to Spezia and the Rossoneri’s drop to second in the table.
“Clearly, we wanted to stay in first place, but let’s not be dramatic because Inter overtook us. The season is long and the important thing is to be in front at the end.
“Now we have an important match in front of us and we have to approach it with the right head. We want to win.”
Leao commented on how much he wants to win tomorrow to return to the top of the table.
“We are AC Milan and we must aim to win the three points in every match. Our mentality is to always take to the pitch as if we are playing a final and we will do the same in the derby.
“While we have respect for our opponents, we want to redeem the defeat against the Nerazzurri in the Coppa Italia. We will be focused and determined to show our football.”
The 21-year-old Portuguese forward was not concerned that a derby loss tomorrow could be a decisive moment for the team this season.
“We know the importance of this match, but the season is still long and there are still a lot of points at stake. We mustn’t be influenced by pressure, it’s better to stay focused on what we have to do.”
He did not want to give a favourite in tomorrow’s derby.
“The derby can’t be predicted in any way and you can’t say who is the favourite, you have to play it and see how it goes. We don’t listen to what others say.”
The AC Milan forward thought that emotions might be running high in tomorrow’s clash.
“I expect it to be a very emotional game in which both sides will want to defend their club and take the three points. Maybe that will affect the atmosphere.”
Leao was disappointed that the game will be played behind closed doors, without fans.
“The San Siro is nicer when it’s full because the fans get us pumped up and create a great atmosphere. It’s a shame we’re playing behind closed doors.”
The Portuguese forward did not want to take any of Inter’s players.
“Inter have a lot of quality players, but apart from their individuality, we respect them as a team. But I’m thinking of AC Milan, not the others.”
He moved onto discussing Nerazzurri wing back Achraf Hakimi.
“Hakimi is a high-quality defender who is capable of scoring and you have to be careful with someone like that.
“As I said before, I prefer to focus on my teammates and, for example, on Theo Hernandez, a very strong player.”
He did not regret joining the Rossoneri instead of the Nerazzurri.
“I chose AC Milan because the directors spoke to me first and I always put this club at the top of the list. When AC Milan is looking for you, you can’t say no.”
Finally, Leao spoke about his desire for tomorrow’s match.
“A goal in the derby is something I dream of, but it’s more important to win. If we win the three points, I’ll be happy even if I don’t score.”