Tuesday October 9 2012
Sacrifice equals success for Napoli

Napoli are ready to sacrifice the Europa League for Serie A glory this season, a decision that David Swan comprehends.

If it was not clear enough before Thursday evening's 3-0 defeat to PSV that Napoli's primary focus this season is Serie A, it became crystal post-match.

“I would say that this defeat can be the consequences of our choices, of the choices of the club,” Coach Walter Mazzarri revealed afterwards. “Otherwise you lose – like we did last year – around 10 points in the League by always playing the same and then turning up to these games with this sort of team.

“You cannot have a squad with 22 champions, we must give space to young players, and naturally these results will happen. The club has decided to play young players in the Europa League so that they are ready for the future.”

Although UEFA co-efficient watchers will be less than impressed by the stance taken by Napoli, it is an easy decision to understand. Last year Mazzarri initially tried to rotate his squad in Serie A in order to cope with the Champions League, but found out very early on he did not have the depth to keep winning points domestically.

It led to what he described above – the same group of players being used week in, week out, and in Europe. Of course, it is impossible to achieve objectives in both competitions using such a small group. The Champions League campaign can be considered a success, but their Serie A finish was a little disappointing.

That should be rectified this season with all the focus being concentrated on the one competition and it would be a surprise, given both their start and the strength of the competition, if they fail to make the Champions League places this time around.

It still does not address the issue of depth. It has been one of Napoli's Achilles heels for a while now and they have had two summers to address it. You can get away with a small group if the efforts are directed at one competition – as Juventus demonstrated last year – but the genuinely big teams are able to manage both.

Improving the depth is the biggest, and hardest leap for sides like Napoli, but it is what is needed to cement their status as one of the perennial challengers in Italian football once again and avoid falling into the boom and bust-esque cycle, albeit with a less dramatic bust, of Champions League, no Champions League.

The hard facts are that Napoli do not have the money to improve this aspect overnight, and nor are they willing to spend it, such is the impressive nature in which the club is run. They have tried to spend – Gokhan Inler, Edinson Cavani, Miguel Britos and Eduardo Vargas were not cheap – but it is difficult for the club to continue signing players of this quality at those prices, particularly the former two.

It means many of the current squad, outside of the core group Mazzarri will rely on to challenge Juventus, are players of debatable quality signed for small fees that struggle to keep Napoli competitive on two fronts.

So this represents a small change in policy. Instead of relying on the likes of Giandomenico Mesto and Marco Donadel to try to maintain competitiveness, they will happily ignore the Europa League to give young guys like Lorenzo Insigne and Omar El Kaddouri a chance to grow into players who can give Napoli genuine top level depth in the future.

As with all youngsters there is always a gamble. But the pay-off for the Partenopei could be huge if it works out. 

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Have your say...
What do people mean by the usual teams are struggling???(inter,milan) if you have been watching italian football for the last 3 years you could see this coming Napoli have the same core players they have for 5 years now and top players like hamsik,cavani are real top players who have matured given that plus quality players like canavaro,maggio,zuniga,behrani,gamberini,pandev i think will finish at least top 3 this year nut last year they would also if they had more depth.Napoli was already comin
on the 11th October, 2012 at 8:47pm
...and stil Italy are crying about the lost 4th CL spot to Germay. Theu should know that not oly CL counts - so does EL when collecting points. And STILL Juvetus are the onlyclub with a decent stadium owned by themselves.... Hope Romae seroius about heir stadiums plans.
on the 11th October, 2012 at 8:59am
I think that one of the reasons Napoli is neglecting the Europa League (this year in particular), is because they think that they really do have a chance of winning the Scudetto this year as a result of other teams not being competitive enough. They are competing with Juve but if you look at other "usual suspects" such as Milan, Inter, Roma, Udinese - they are all struggling at the moment. Such chance may not necessarily be given to Napoli next year.

As a Juve fan, I say good luck!!!
on the 10th October, 2012 at 2:58pm
Napoli will still qualify from their Europa League group and then maybe they can start to believe they can win it1
on the 9th October, 2012 at 9:00pm
Napoli can do what they want, but in the long run the Italian policy of ignoring the Europa League will cost CL spots. France, Portugal, Russia, and Ukraine are countries with strong teams that respect the competition. Not that it matters to me, 1 CL spot is plenty for Juventus.
on the 9th October, 2012 at 8:58pm

I think you're right about Donadel, Mesto and Aronica but Dzemaili is a good player, a worthy backup. Doessena used to be good back-up but now I'm not sure. El Kaddouri appears impetuous. Insigne and Vargas I think shouldn't play together just yet, they need Pandev or Cavani next to them, who could take it in turns to lead.

In truth the team against PSV was not awful, but away to PSV is the one game in that group they shouldn't be rotating for.
on the 9th October, 2012 at 8:19pm
Single out Napoli but any club including my Juventus, if any club goes into an European competition no matter how small or how much money it offers and throws a game away by playing youth players that are not going to put up a good fight i would make them forfeit the rest of their European games. Shame on Napoli, Mazzarri and their president i feel sorry for the Napoli fans and especially Italian football fans such as my self.
on the 9th October, 2012 at 4:17pm
I can't believe that Italian football clubs are so cowardly when it comes to Europa League, a competition that the Germans for years embraced and are now better off for it, not to mention that the youth systems in Germany are so much more advanced and they don't sacrifice one competition for another, same thing with Spain! Napoli's stance on the Europa league is a shame on Italian football and i would be ashamed to support any club that openly throws games like that. My intention is not to
on the 9th October, 2012 at 4:13pm
Amongst my most respected teams in Italy was always Napoli a team i personally thought always went onto the field to win... As a Juve supporter i couldn't care less what Napoli does but as a football & Serie A fan, most of my respect has gone for them since the loss to PSV and even more after i heard Mazzarri talk. By sides the UEFA coefficient that matters not just to the top 3 clubs in Italy but every club in Serie A, i know fans all over the world that lost respect for the Italian football.
on the 9th October, 2012 at 4:08pm
Its not the rotation thats the problem, or the younger players. Its the pure second rate mature players Napoli and Mazzarri insist on keeping around. Donadel, Modesto, Aronica, Dezmali are all second rate and belong on bottom of the table teams. Why not bring Cigarini back and play him? Or invest in some players that can compete for a 1st team spot? Nothing wrong with competition within the squad. They simply buy "B team" players that have no chance of ever making the 1st team.
on the 9th October, 2012 at 3:56pm
Agree completely with anonymous' IV statement.
In the end if Italian clubs continue to adopt this mentality the UEFA coefficient of Italy will continue to fall. As a result we will have less and less champions league spots and it will continue to get more difficult to attract talented players to our league and to keep them here. This also means that a club like Napoli will have to sell players like Cavani and Hamsik and then they won't even have a chance to win the league. Man up Napoli.
on the 9th October, 2012 at 3:06pm
on the 9th October, 2012 at 3:00pm
Their strategy is short-sighted. A further drop in the coefficient for Serie A will mean that the 3rd CL place is lost. Napoli would then struggle to qualify for the CL. It's in their long term interest that Serie A has as many CL spots as possible, as they can't guarantee a top 2 finish for the next 3/4 years. When they've sold Cavani et al further down the line , and are languishing in 4th spot, they'll no doubt regret it.
on the 9th October, 2012 at 1:54pm
Napoli's problem for years has been the way they ignore young players (cigarini and santacroce, for example). I think its a great idea to use young players in the Europa League. Now they have a way to give them competitive matches without the pressure of having to win.
on the 9th October, 2012 at 1:42pm
Though, I am Juve fan but am backing Mazzari's idea to play B team in Europa in oder to give young players chance.
on the 9th October, 2012 at 1:36pm
Part 4:

Fewer places will be given, and nobody will benefit from it, including Napoli in the future. If everybody does their best, the 4th place may go again to the Champions League. Everybody, including Napoli, will just have to finish 4th to look for some money. Plus, if Napoli do get the scudetto, I'm not sure how they will cope in the Champions League either. Perhaps, Walter Mazzari will say again that they have to make sacrifices. What a team with a bunch of cowards. Man up and try to win.
on the 9th October, 2012 at 1:01pm
Part 3:

If you want to show people that your priority is Serie A, at least, show them that you still do your best in other competitions. What Napoli showed last week was a disgrace to the Italian football. You can play a B team against a Swedish, but not against a Dutch who is twice as strong.

Italy need that coefficient. It will benefit the clubs, including Napoli. If Italy always send clubs who lack ambitions, the country will sink without trace in the UEFA table.
on the 9th October, 2012 at 12:56pm
Part 2:

I can understand that Napoli don't want to fill their trophy cabinet, unlike Inter and Udinese. I can also understand that you have to rotate your squad. But you don't play a B team in one competition and an A one in the other. What is wrong with rotating just four players rather than eight? I'm sure Morgan de Sanctis can play twice a week. The reserve goalie can play in Copa Italia.
on the 9th October, 2012 at 12:52pm
Part 1:

A sacrifice doesn't mean a total sacrifice. Such provincial mentality is sky-highly egoistic and doesn't help the country and other clubs.

Europa League doesn't give you much money, that is right. And I agree that Michel Platini should take one or two millions away from the Champions League to put in the Europa League. But the thing is that Europa League is a continental competition to be won. If you win it, you'll fill your trophy cabinet.
on the 9th October, 2012 at 12:46pm
Too right, youngsters should be used in Europa when you've got a great chance to finish in top 3
on the 9th October, 2012 at 12:36pm
For me the thing is with napoli is that we dont have a bigger enough team hence why they stuffed last year may be in time they will grow and successful in europe as well in seria A , but i can see them reaching the last 16
on the 9th October, 2012 at 12:35pm
Who cares about the Europa League anyway? Champions League i can understand. Just not worth sacrificing Serie A for a second rate tournament.
on the 9th October, 2012 at 12:04pm
Top 2 in the group is still on, even with a 2nd string team.
on the 9th October, 2012 at 12:02pm
This is the kind of philosophy that led to Italy losing their 3rd place and hence the 4th CL spot to Germany and what will eventually mean we will lose the 4th place too to France and possibly be taken over by Portugal as well. So yes, bravo and well done.....
on the 9th October, 2012 at 11:59am
Can't agree more...Napoli is taking the positive approach. But who's to say our 2nd squad couldn't make it out of the group? That was Champions League regulars (and IN-FORM) PSV EINDHOVEN last thursday! Maybe Mazzarri should have started 2 or 3 of our first team for that match. Maybe if we have a little room to sacrifice possible dropped points in Serie A by the return in San Paolo, we can afford to start our first team. Europa is NOT over by a long shot. I still believe!!! FORZA NAPOLI!
on the 9th October, 2012 at 11:30am
Absolutely... use youngsters in Europe as a policy and see how well they will do in the future.. just ask Arsene Wenger. Napoli can still aim to progress from their group in this manner, even top it still.
on the 9th October, 2012 at 11:11am

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