Monday November 6 2017
Wk12: Depth charge

Few expected Roma to be the paragons of squad rotation, but Napoli lack understudies and Milan are missing ideas, writes Susy Campanale.

Strength in depth is often cited as the key component for a successful team in modern football. With the fixture list so densely-packed, being able to rest, chop and change without losing quality is essential. Napoli having problems with this was entirely predictable, but few expected Roma to be the paragon of squad rotation virtue.

Eusebio Di Francesco has done an amazing job with the Giallorossi. It was assumed the level of the team had dropped and they replaced Luciano Spalletti with a Coach unaccustomed to balancing two or more tournaments, so surely this meant resting any stars would inevitably weaken the side so much that they couldn’t maintain results. Instead, Roma have rotated more than any other outfit and proved beyond doubt that when there is a specific game-plan, everyone who comes in knows what to do. All this has been achieved without Patrik Schick, Emerson Palmieri and Rick Karsdorp, who would provide even more alternatives.

Napoli simply do not have understudies for most of their key players and you cannot use the same XI every three days. It’s no coincidence that the Partenopei dropped points in Serie A this season only twice: both straight after a Champions League clash with Manchester City. Chievo were content to sit back, soak up pressure and plug every gap for 90 minutes, aware Sarri’s side didn’t have the energy left to move the ball around at their usual pace.

Inter have used the same starting line-up for the last five games and should really have made more of that massive advantage. Stalling at the Stadio San Paolo is one thing, but dropping points with Bologna and Torino is not the record of champions. In a way, Spalletti and Sarri are dealing with the same problem, as having players guaranteed a starting spot breeds complacency.

That’s not something you’ll see at Juventus, where Douglas Costa, Federico Bernardeschi, Mario Mandzukic and Juan Cuadrado are constantly jostling for position. Yet while Max Allegri rotates, his players forever seem to be grumbling, whereas Roma, Lazio, Sampdoria and even Atalanta are like a big, happy family ready to share the work-load. They all look part of one unit with one way of playing. I don’t get that impression from watching Juve or Milan.

There are teams that are built on talent and others constructed around ideas. Combine the two and you have a winning side. No matter how much Vincenzo Montella says they are growing into their identity, his Milan is very clearly a collection of talented players with no idea what they’re supposed to be doing. For all the money spent, it’s Suso who keeps bailing them out and the winger was again instrumental in the 2-0 victory away to shambolic Sassuolo. Imagine how well he’d be playing if Milan stopped trying to crowbar him into this 3-4-2-1 system?

Having said all of this, the pessimism that has suddenly sprung up around Napoli is bizarre. Juventus moved to within a point of the leaders and already it’s talked about as a crisis, the fans and media throwing their hands up at the conclusion it’ll be a seventh straight Scudetto for the Old Lady. All rather premature, isn’t it? Sarri’s side will go out of Europe early and take that hit, because everyone knows they only care about the Serie A title. I’m still tipping the Partenopei to end the long wait for silverware.

The relegation battle won’t be as cut-and-dried as some may think. Crotone have already begun the climb back up the standings, while Sassuolo and Genoa won’t be in the bottom four forever. Verona were unlucky in defeat at Cagliari and SPAL continue to put in strong performances, giving Atalanta a real scare in Bergamo. Above all, if Benevento can just find a centre-forward who scores goals, they can still have their say this season, Amato Ciciretti’s free kick at the Allianz Juventus Stadium was only a taster.

Have your say...

What is nonesense is you comparing Messi and Ronaldo to Napoli's squad, or anyone in the world for that matter.

What a poor argument that is, "Messi and Ronaldo are not being rotated". Of course they're not. You don't rotate 2 of the best players in history.

There are 3-4 pillars in each team, you rotate the other 7 or 8.
All of those teams you mentioned rotate on regular bases. Just because your team doesn't have the depth needed doesn't mean rotation is bad.

See you in May...
on the 7th November, 2017 at 10:21pm
@Maldini'sHeir 1.In football different teams play different formations to suit their players.We seem to disagree whether the current formation is helping Milan's chase for top 4.A 4W4L1D record in Serie A with this formation doesnt convince me.2.My main issue is why change a formation that old players r familiar with & new players worked on in the summer after 1 loss in which Jack,Hakan were benched & Romagnoli,Conti didnt play.Jack injured?Play Borini or get creative & play Hakan or Silva
on the 7th November, 2017 at 5:22pm
Anyway, I'm just speculating based on previous seasons. 2016 especially should've been Napoli's year and they've failed hard, while they still finished below Roma last season. 2 losses against Pep's Man City might not be a big deal if they qualify anyway, and the title race certainly isn't decided. I only have my doubts over their efforts due to seasons past, meanwhile everything we've achieved so far might be pure luck (vs Milan). Here's hoping we come back stronger after the break.
on the 7th November, 2017 at 3:21pm
Which is why Napoli suffer from the opposite. A well-defined gameplan is great, and using the same personnel for it over and over is the best way to perfect it. The unfortunate truth is that it's almost a double-edged sword, since disadvantages of fatigue and predictability always holds Napoli back. I say almost because there is no real advantage, except style. Grinding out results is a necessity in leagues, helping against minnows and making a difference against bigger teams. Napoli lack this.
on the 7th November, 2017 at 3:14pm
@Maldini's Heir
Agreed there. A team needs a definitive shape with regular features, rotating a few at a time when necessary and not mixing+matching every match. I don't know myself if Milan suffers from this problem so you'll have to tell me, but Juventus have their style now (which still shows that Bonucci could be used for playmaking) with enough veterans familiar and newcomers that have adapted well. It's not perfect as shown by results but effective now and more improvements to come.
on the 7th November, 2017 at 3:06pm
@Sheva Milan, Why do you need to bring Inter? We're clearly not struggling like Milan. As fas as I'm concerned we never get dominated by our opponent, even against Napoli at their home. We were lucky against Roma because they hit the post 3 times but in the end we had more shots on goal, more chances & more possession than them in their own stadium.
I'm still confident Inter can finish above Roma or Lazio or even both. Finishing top 4 is okay with me, our target is UCL spot after all.
on the 7th November, 2017 at 1:28pm
@ juvenitini86 The issue with rotation is you need to rotate from a base; you shouldn't rotate the base. That is the problem at Milan; nobody knows who the starting 11 is. Who's Milan's first choice striker? Apparently Silva in the EL and Kalinic in the Serie A. How are they going to find their rhythm?
on the 7th November, 2017 at 7:19am
Rotation is still needed badly for teams of players that you mentioned. Juve hardly ever bench Higuain for example. One or a few are fine, in this case guaranteed goal scorers. You don't need the whole team playing every single minute, especially with fatigue and injuries to manage. Sarri managed to burn out his XI the last 2 seasons already and now couldn't beat City while dropping points after to add insult to injury. He continues like this and even Serie A will be too much for Napoli.
on the 7th November, 2017 at 1:17am
So that's the back 4 sorted. Further up the pitch we can play Çalhanoğlu in MF and Bonaventura LF in 4-3-3 and if one or both of them gets injured....I have no idea since the only cover is Borini....what a mess.
PS Borini has at best performed "solidly". He's not a difference maker, he's still the player that got relegated with Sunderland and shouldn't be starting no matter how hard he works.
on the 6th November, 2017 at 11:33pm
@ Sheva Milan Yes Milan are the only team in Europe who can't play 3 at back. Another great mystery. Actually I may have a solution; what is the deal with Musacchio never playing in the league? Is it something to do with his injuries that he can't play every 3 days? If that is the case, then we have a solution; CBs should never be rotated and Zapata should never play, so if Musacchio cannot play every 3 days we move to a back 4 with Bonucci and Romagnoli.
on the 6th November, 2017 at 11:30pm
@ Viktor Yes. It was the best time to replace Montella with the international break. Now he won't be replaced until probably we lose to the big teams in the reverse fixtures in February. Until then I predict he'll get some kind of result against Napoli and pick up enough wins and draws against weaker teams to keep his job. We can forget about qualifying for Europe. I hope I'm wrong.
on the 6th November, 2017 at 11:25pm
Both Milan clubs will struggle.Montella is a huge problem for AC.Transfers aside,he ditched 433 that he worked on with the new players during the summer,brought success last season,& aside from 1 off game against Lazio was looking ok.Now he uses a formation that has not worked against one decent team.As for Inter,they're getting results but not playing well.A few seasons ago it was the same & they were even 1st for a while before the collapse.They're better now but the max they can get is 4th.
on the 6th November, 2017 at 8:34pm
what is up with all this malarkey eder actually scored a goal surely this can't be true. What next milan beating sassuolo surely the world is coming to a end.

All pales in comparison with jorginho being called up i guess ventura has worked out that you can play jorginho in more than one position and that montolivo isn't as good as jorginho.
on the 6th November, 2017 at 2:31pm
@ravanelli have you ever seen RM or Barca rotate CR7 or Messi? Do PSG rotate Cavani and Neymar? No so Stop talking nonsense! Sarri knows exactly what he is doing and when Napoli give Milan a good hiding it will be business as usual and Montella will probably be sacked too if the defeat is really heavy.
on the 6th November, 2017 at 1:15pm
Spalletti and Sarri are arrogant in front of rotation, luckily the price were only a draw.
on the 6th November, 2017 at 1:06pm
@Maldini's Heir

So let me get this straight, you would rather seen us lose to Sassuolo rather then win just so we can replace Montella. We have to give it time. I want Silva to play more often and def cutrone as well. I'm skeptic about to who play betten biglia, montilvo (who had a good game yesterday) and Kessie, who looked ok yesterday but before that horrible. Im positive Bonucci will step up to hes game eventually. I'm a tat worried about Donnarumma as he looks sloppy.
on the 6th November, 2017 at 12:27pm
Finally, Jorginho has been called up. I hope that Ventura switches to a 433/352. I won't allow myself to get too excited because he'll probably stick with 2 central midfielders & opt for DDR & Parolo. Plus he's called up loads of strikers, so he will most likely go with two up top. I hope that he surprises us.
on the 6th November, 2017 at 11:30am
It's shaping up to be a terrific season. It's also great to see another crop of talented managers coming through (Inzaghi, EDF, Giampaolo) & consolidating their growing reputations.
on the 6th November, 2017 at 11:23am
What have Sassuolo got against Milan? Back in 13/14 when Allegri desperately needed a win they beat us 4:3, we lost our best manager this decade and were plunged into the amateurism of Seedorf-Inzaghi and the mediocrity of Mihajlovic-Montella. Now we need Sassuolo to beat Milan so that we can finally get rid of Montella and what do they do? Now was the perfect time to replace Montella with the international break. Ah well I'm sure it'll happen sooner or later. In the meantime better support him.
on the 6th November, 2017 at 10:22am
Cool but now on a far more important note it's time to discuss sVentura's latest call-ups... how bout a column dedicated to that?
on the 6th November, 2017 at 8:33am
Squad depth and rotation are very important today. Anyone who says otherwise is living in the past or oblivious to what we see over the course of the whole season. Not just the opening 10-15 rounds.

Yes, a well-drilled and consistent 11 is nice, but you can't have that when your players play in Serie A, CL, and for their national teams. Injuries and fatigue (mental and physical) will eventually get the better of them.
on the 6th November, 2017 at 8:27am
on the 6th November, 2017 at 2:59am
I want to be optimistic of top 4 as a Milan fan but Roma, Lazio, and Inter all look so strong this season. We'd have to make a up a lot of ground.
Not to even mention the likes of Sampdoria, Fiorentina, Torino,and Atalanta who will be in the mix for Europe as well.

At least Serie A is competitive and exciting again!
on the 6th November, 2017 at 2:00am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.