MN: Okafor impresses as a striker for Switzerland – Pioli given food for thought
With Olivier Giroud suspended in the league and Luka Jovic having failed to make any contribution there has been a lot of talks about AC Milan being under-equipped in the striker role, but the solution might just be in-house.
According to MilanNews, summer signing Noah Okafor is seen by Stefano Pioli more as a winger than as a centre-forward, therefore more as Rafael Leao’s deputy than someone to alternate with Giroud.
However, on Wednesday the Swiss national team played against Israel and Okafor was deployed as the No.9 in a 4-3-3 in a game that ended 1-1. Switzerland have two fast and technical wingers (like Leao and Pulisic) in Vargas and Amdouni, plus two midfielders that like to get involved (as Loftus-Cheek and Reijnders do) in Freuler and Xhaka.
The positions on the pitch taken by the players, as well as their quality, is obviously different but the tactical context is similar. Okafor’s performance was a good one as he came close to scoring on two occasions, especially in the first half and in particular in his movements.
The former Salzburg star moved well and continuously to open spaces for the runs of his team-mates. He often made himself available centrally for one-twos but he also led counter-attacks and dropped deep to help with build-up play.
Okafor hit the crossbar after a nice individual bit of play that ended with a shot from the edge of the area, while he also had three key passes and two successful dribbles in 69 minutes of play.
Would he be able to replicate what Giroud does for Milan? Well, Okafor’s only two goals for the Rossoneri came when he was deployed as a striker, against Cagliari and Lazio, and they came from great movement and anticipation.
He is not yet at the level of his French teammate nor is he of the same mould, but he could offer an alternative solution against a Fiorentina side that tend to allow a lot of space.
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