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ISL 2018-19: Bengaluru FC and FC Goa among teams who have not rotated their squad

07:31 GMT+4 15/11/2018
Carles Cuadrat Bengaluru FC
Sergio Lobera and Carles Cuadrat have not made too many changes to their starting lineups so far as FC Goa and Bengaluru emerge as early contenders...

Squad rotation is a difficult problem to tackle for any coach as it takes away the chemistry of the squad with new players being brought into the lineup every other match.

It is also a necessity in the long term to not only make full use of the potential of the squad at your disposal but also maintain fitness levels of the footballers. 

In India, lack of domestic cup tournaments running in parallel to the league season provides some leeway to the clubs but the Indian Super League (ISL) calendar has not been kind to a lot of teams and that could leave coaches will no option but to heavily rotate their first team in the upcoming matches. 

So far, the early season trend has shown us that teams that have kick-started their campaign on a bright note have all preferred to stick with the core of their starting eleven and not made too many changes game after game. 

Bengaluru FC and FC Goa are at the top of the pile. Both clubs are off to an impressive start and occupy the first two spots on the table. Spanish coaches Sergio Lobera and Carles Cuadrat have made very few alterations to their starting lineups in between fixtures.

For Lobera, the few changes he has had to make were forced. Otherwise, FC Goa boasts a well-settled first team that is easy to name ahead of every match yet difficult to beat due to the incredible chemistry and playing style they have developed over one full season. 

Carles Cuadrat has only made one change to his lineup in five games and that has seen Dimas Delgado replacing Xisco Hernandez in midfield. The rest of the players have played every single match of the campaign so far. 

ATK and NorthEast United have also kept squad rotation to a minimum. Coppell's centre-back pairing has been consistent but has had to rotate his midfield and attack. Eelco Schattorie's changes were mostly due to suspensions and injuries, with Bartholomew Ogbeche and co. leading the Highlanders' charge this season. 

Mumbai City and Jamshedpur FC made changes to their lineups in the first few rounds but have since found a settled first team. They have both names unchanged lineups in the last two rounds and it will be interesting to see if that trend continues.

Chennaiyin FC, Pune City, Delhi Dynamos and Kerala Blasters are the teams who have chopped and changed their squads the most this season. Chennaiyin have struggled with their attack and Jeje Lalpekhlua's poor form in front of goal has forced John Gregory to try out various options in the attack. Isaac Vanmaalsawma, Thoi Singh and Gregory Nelson have all dropped in and out of the first team.

Pune City's awful start to the season under Miguel Angel Portugal and then the poor results under Pradhyum Reddy could be attributed to both coaches struggling with a balanced lineup. While it may not be the main reason for their failure, Pune City have been constantly changing their lineups every match. However, suspensions and injuries have been a driving factor behind that. 

While Josep Gombau has struggled to name the same lineup for more than one match, fixture congestion has played a big part in the coach's team selection. Marcos Tebar's injury made matters worse as the coach struggled for midfield options during a tight run of fixtures. Gombau should be able to find his best eleven soon. 

David James has had it easy with his defence. He has not had to make too many changes in defence or midfield but he is yet to find his best team. Kerala Blasters' changes in the first seven games have mostly come up front. Matej Poplatnik, CK Vineeth, Halicharan Narzary and Seimenlen Doungel have all had to share minutes and it could be a cause for concern for the English coach if his team fails to strike the right balance in the next few matches.