As the midweek CL match looms I am going to advocate the unthinkable. I know Milan is the most successful CL team in recent history and our pedigree in the CL is second only to Real Madrid, but bowing out of the CL may be exactly what this team needs to take back the Scudetto from our dearest rivals. Have I lost my mind? It is quite possible, but please let me plead my case and then you decide!
I am not saying you roll over for Auxerre, not by any means, but playing these next two group matches in a conservative almost cagey fashion would not get an argument from me. The fact that Zlatan has played 16 games in a row and our new workhorse midfield only has four viable players for a three man rotation means that the burden on each and every player will be heavy as we near the holiday break. Players who often struggle to see the pitch like Oddo and Janks should in fact be considered and while I want to sit here and advocate for the inclusion of youth, giving them start in CL group matches is a tough sell when they barely appear ready to contribute in Serie A matches in the eyes of Allegri and the Club.
The other issue is simply one of competing on two fronts. I don’t hold any belief that this team is deep enough top to bottom to make a long run in the CL and maintain their league position in Serie A. If you consider the team’s fighting for the top of the Serie A table, only Roma and Inter have the added burden of the CL. Juventus and Napoli have a Europa League burden, but their sights will be fixed firmly on Serie A, while Lazio have no midweek competitions to hold them back. With that said taking back the Scudetto should be a priority and in order to do so Allegri must be weary with his lineups and starters.
In order to begin this pseudo player rotation he needs to address the concerns of the players needing the most rest. Zlatan, Seedorf, Ambrosini and Rino come immediately to mind with Flamini a close consideration having play three games on the trot. His lineup in France should look as follows:
Abbiati, Abate, Yepes, Silva, Ants; Flamini, Prince, Rino; Pirlo; Dinho and Robinho
As much as I don’t want Ronaldinho anywhere near the pitch the man has to contribute at this point in order to justify his place in this team. By putting him alongside Binho, the work rate issue will not be a dramatic concern, but he needs to play simple in possession and make sure that Milan are not caught on the counter by one of his magnificent, top class, World-beating through balls to no one! It also gives Pirlo a chance to try on the CAM role while keeping the midfield tough behind him. Yepes should start to give Nesta a break and Abate and Antonini should be able to handle the full back duties.
If Allegri heeds this sort of advice his team for Samp could return Zlatan, Seedorf, and Ambro, while even potentially finding a game off for Silva and Flamini and keeping everyone fresh before the break. More importantly putting his best foot forward in Serie A while still remaining competitive in the CL to earn the financial windfall of getting out of the group stages, after that it is a toss-up! The previous match against Auxerre was peculiar as Milan played well for stretches but couldn’t really cope with counters, this is a different a team and that problem should subside and even a weaker team should be able to earn the result.
I want to reiterate I am not asking for the abandonment of the CL, but just a simple bit of caution to protect the league position and maintain any hope that a Scudetto, the first in six long years, is within reach.