It’s been a memorable season so far for Lucas Joao at Reading, although the forward will know that he has a point to prove from now until the end of this year’s campaign.
The 27-year-old arrived at the Madejski Stadium in 2019, shortly after getting on the scoresheet against the Royals for Sheffield Wednesday.
He struggled for consistent game time in his first season with the Berkshire-based side though, with Joao picking up injuries which hampered his run in the starting XI.
But he’s certainly made up for lost time this season under the management of Veljko Paunovic, with the forward scoring 21 goals in his 33 appearances so far this term.
He had a blistering start to this year’s campaign with Reading, who started the 2020/21 season in remarkable form, as they went unbeaten in their opening eight matches in the second-tier.
One area that Joao is currently struggling in though is confidence, with the forward only scoring once in Reading’s last eight league matches, which doesn’t make for the best of reading for a striker that is in a team that are challenging for promotion into the Premier League.
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That lack of confidence has been evident in some matches this season, with Joao missing three penalties for the Royals, which has since seen him replaced by Michael Olise when it comes to spot-kicks.
The Royals have been boosted by the return of Yakou Meite in recent weeks, and the Ivorian international has eased the weight of expectation on Joao’s shoulders to score the goals to fire Reading up the table.
Joao is averaging 2.1 shots per game, with an average of 1.1 of those being on target this season, which is something he’ll be looking to maintain as a strength of his. (Sofascore)
More importantly though, Joao has a scoring frequency of finding the back of the net every 150 minutes, which is hugely impressive for any forward in the Championship, with Reading’s next-best option when it comes to scoring frequency being Sone Aluko with the former Fulham man scoring every 494 minutes. However, that statistic has to be taken with a pinch of salt, with the winger only making nine league starts this term. (Sofascore)
His recent dip in form evidently hasn’t gone unnoticed by Reading boss Veljko Paunovic though, with Joao being substituted in three of his last five matches for the Royals. With George Puscas being back in the first-team picture now after injury, Joao will know that he has much-needed competition for his starting spot.
Joao and his Reading team-mates are set to return to action on Good Friday, when they take on play-off chasing rivals Barnsley at Oakwell, in what is certain to be one of their biggest matches of the season so far, with both teams battling it out for a top-six finish in the Championship.