KAZAN - Andrea Stramaccioni spoke to the gathered media 24 hours before his side face Rubin in Matchday 5 of the UEFA Europa League. He immediately explained: "Although we don't have all the big names here with us I'm sure that the youngsters and the others who play tomorrow will do well. Nagatomo? He's not in the squad, I decided to leave him behind in Milan because he's done a lot of travelling recently. He trained today though. We've got ten lads here under the age of 21, some of them will definitely play."
After travelling to Baku, Kazan represents another long-haul journey. The coach went on: "Since the draw was made we knew that we'd have three long away trips. We've done two and tomorrow we're up against Rubin, who are top-class opposition, the best in the group along with us. It's important for us to focus on tomorrow's game. Inter have an injury crisis at the moment and we've played lots of games without three experienced centre-backs and lots of games without five midfielders. But we've still managed to keep playing our usual way and not lose our identity. This match against Rubin is also an important moment for our youth academy, where I come from myself, because it's an opportunity to see if some of these youngsters might be ready if they're called upon."
The coach then said of his squad rotation: "If in the early stage of the Europa League we made changes through choice, now we're doing it out of necessity. We'll give it a go tomorrow, but once we get to the knockout phase it will definitely be more difficult to change so many players because the team as a unit will be important."
Finally, Stramaccioni had this to say about his opposite number Kurban Berdyev: "I have great respect for Rubin's coach, he's one of the best in Europe. People don't talk about him much but I've seen lots of his games and he'll make it hard for us as he did in Milan. It will be a great match to watch."