Wednesday Leonardo will be faced with the timeless age old question that plagues Coaches across the globe. To play or not to play? Seemingly a Coppa Italia match against a squad like Novara should be won regardless who is on the pitch for AC Milan, but remember these small Clubs take these games seriously for financial reasons as well as pride and shouldn’t be treated as push overs. With that said you also have to ask how important it is to win the Coppa Italia for a squad, granted the trophy is not as hotly contested as the English version, FA Cup, but there is value to silverware as evidence by many teams slugging it out last season as the competition grew tougher.
So I guess the simple question is what would you do?
Based on the early squad list Leo is giving some of his big guns a break:
Abbiati, Storari, Antonini, Bonera, Favalli, Jankulovski, Kaladze, Thiago Silva, De Vito (56), Abate, Ambrosini, Flamini, Gattuso, Merkel (52), Di Gennaro, Huntelaar, Inzaghi, Verdi (58), Zigoni (17). Unavailable Players: Roma, Oddo, Onyewu, Zambrotta, Seedorf, Pato.
Based on this list you can assume a winning eleven of Abbiati, Bonera, Kaladze, Favalli, Janks, Flamini, Rino, Di Gennaro, Zigoni, KJH, Pippo…best guess there, but you get my point, Leo is not going to risk life and limb to win this match, but will not weaken the side to the point of collapse.
I don’t personally put much stock in rotation policies destroying team chemistry, chemistry is not built in 90 minutes, it is built through countless hours of training. But what this match will provide is a real life scouting situation for fringe players like Di Gennaro, Zigoni, KJH, Abbiati, and Bonera to raise their stock and see if they can become viable players off the bench, instead of junk minute guys when the team has the lead. Leo would do well to analyze this performance and see who comes to play and use that as future reference for the upcoming influx of matches on the fixture list.
So I end with this, isn’t winning the Coppa Italia better than winning nothing at all? I will leave both this question and the earlier one for you!