Napoli have hit their season low point. Sixth in the table, and eight points from a blistering Lazio who sits in 3rd, the final Champion's league spot. They haven't won a league match since the end of February, and uncertainty about the head coach's future swirls above, supposedly to no affect of the team, says that same man in question.
Then the team sheet hit Saturday morning ahead of the match against AS Roma. Now, we all know almost everyone has been fairly critical of Rafa's first team choices all season. But what happened with the line-up sheet on Saturday against Roma has nearly made everyone scratch their heads so hard their brains could feel it. Once again, Rafa omitted one of the club's most important and in-form players.
The omission in question was Napoli's captain, Marek Hamsik.Certainly Napoli's fixture list is heavy, but there was just an international break and he was used sparingly immediately before it. So how, how, how can your captain sit idle on the bench, not even appearing as a sub, in a match of this magnitude?
Let's put aside the precedent that this sets to a team's mentality and just think tactically. Hamsik is Napoli's creative hub on the field. You take him out of the line-up, and in his stead you put in Jonathan De Guzman. Now, De Guzman has been OK, minus his seemingly diminishing ability to finish, but his success this season has been out on the flanks. He has neither the creative gusto, nor the ability to make those vital key passes like Hamsik.
Has Hamsik fallen further out of favor with Benitez? If this really is the case, then many cannot wait to hear Benitez's announcement about his future in a few weeks. With a major overhaul expected this summer regardless, we should be very interested to see how the captain reacts, to either decision.