As a season draws closer to its finale very few teams are left with the opportunity of fighting on multiple fronts. Most of the European leagues are done and dusted by now and this time of the year is mostly about the European Finals.
Atletico Madrid will take on Real Madrid in Champions League final while Liverpool will play against Sevilla in the Europa League final this season. All these teams have a decision to make of whether to play or rest their key players from now and till the end of this season.
Managers have the tough job of picking between momentum and risking injuries to his players as the big day of European Final draws closer. This job becomes even harder when a team is fighting for the domestic honor as well.
Atletico and Real Madrid would ideally want their players fresh and rested ahead of the Champions League showdown but because of their La Liga title race with Barcelona, they would need to field their strongest players.
However, same cannot be said about Liverpool and Sevilla, who know that a Europa League success guarantees them an automatic Champions League qualification next season. They can opt to rest their best players and keep them fit for the all important final.
Fitness vs Momentum
The most difficult job for a manager is to decide whether he wants his team on a winning run before the big final or he prefers his players rested. Both have their advantages and disadvantages of course.
While a winning run and momentum gives a team self-belief going in to the biggest game of their season, it also risks injuries along the way. Especially with teams like Liverpool and Atletico Madrid who play a pressing form of football and rely on couple of individual brilliance to win most of their matches.
As with resting comes the possibility of sluggishness and lack of form. At times after an extensive break and change of system, players take some time in getting used to their season-long method of playing as a team.
A manager has to be careful in picking his style of preparation ahead of a European Final as it can decide the outcome of the match and certainly go on to define their season in terms of being a success or a failure.
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