Squad depth: How Europe’s top teams are managing players
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Squad depth: How Europe’s top teams are managing players

As we enter the business end of the season, Europe’s leading clubs are once again having to balance continental competition with their busy domestic schedule.

Is it possible to compete for honours with a small group of players or do managers need squad depth and quality back-up in every position?

We have analysed results across the ‘big five’ leagues in 2022-23 to highlight how different teams are using their squads.

Who has used the most players?

Nottingham Forest lead the way in the Premier League, with manager Steve Cooper having called on 33 players in 23 games so far this season.

Elsewhere in Europe, six teams – Cadiz, Valladolid, Verona, Spezia, Schalke and Ajaccio – have used 34 players, with all of them either in their respective drop zones or fighting a relegation battle.

Clubs that have stuck with a smaller group of players have generally fared better.

For example, Manchester City are competing for the Premier League title having used the fewest players of any English top-flight team (21).

In France, the similarly well-resourced PSG have limited playing time to a 25-man squad.

Meanwhile, Freiburg have been one of the stories of the season in Germany, with the Black Forest side sitting three points off the top of the Bundesliga having used only 24 players.

Which team has relied on their starting XI?

Consistency in team selection has paid off across Europe’s top leagues.

Arsenal and Napoli are on course to end long title droughts having stuck with tried and tested XIs, with the Gunners having made only 18 changes to their starting line-up all season.

Plenty of other teams challenging for European qualification are doing so on the back of a settled side, such as Newcastle in the Premier League, Rayo Vallecano in La Liga, Freiburg in the Bundesliga and Lens in Ligue 1.

On the other hand, inconsistency in selection has led to some poor results.

In England, Chelsea’s extensive transfer activity has left Graham Potter with an enormous squad to choose from, with the Blues’ top XI barely cracking the 60 per cent mark for minutes played.

Sevilla are underperforming in Spain having chopped and changed up to now, while the winless Cremonese have also struggled to stick with the same team in Italy.

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