Napoli celebrate Scudetto success in homecoming fixture against Fiorentina
Fresh from securing their third Serie A (SA) title, Napoli return home for their first match as the new Italian champions. The second-longest period to elapse between two SA titles ended after 33 years in Udine, where they gained a crucial point after a 1-1 draw. Curiously, it was also in that city where immortal club legend Diego Armando Maradona scored his first ‘Hand of God’ goal.
Now back at their stadium named after the Argentinian legend, Napoli will be looking to properly celebrate what is the first Scudetto for a team from southern Italy since Roma’s title in 2001. Their coach Luciano Spalletti, who won his first ever title at 64 years of age, will likely rotate the squad for this game after some late night player celebrations, including Matteo Politano who partied with fans until the early hours of Friday morning.
Looking to take advantage of Napoli’s festive mood here will be Fiorentina. But with their recent 3-3 draw against Salernitana all but ending their hopes of finishing in the top seven with European qualification, it’s quite likely that Vincenzo Italiano’s men will focus more on next week’s UEFA Europa Conference League semifinal against Basel, while later in the month they also have a Coppa Italia final against Inter as another path into Europe.
Italiano praised the “enthusiasm and confidence” of his players in that aforementioned draw, which was the fourth amongst Fiorentina’s last five matches to see at least five goals scored (W1, D2, L2). Whilst he may be disappointed to have seen his defence concede goals in four of their last five SA outings, the Fiorentina manager instead praised their “never give up” attitude that he believes will serve them well in their continental playoff. Recent goal-fests may continue here as each of the last three H2Hs held at this stadium have seen at least four goals, with the visitors winning the last two!
Players to watch: The ‘eternal sub’ Giovanni Simeone could start here against his former club, for whom he scored three career goals. Nicolás González (five league goals) scored and assisted during Fiorentina’s surprising 3-2 victory at Napoli last season, with his last two of his last three SA strikes being recorded in the 49th minute.
Hot stat: Fiorentina have opened the scoring before half-time in three of the last four H2Hs held here.