After clinching their first Scudetto since 1990, Napoli are set to get a hero’s homecoming when they welcome Fiorentina to Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on Sunday, with the party atmosphere in full swing in Naples.
Napoli snapped their 33-year wait for Scudetto glory thanks to a 1-1 draw at Udinese on Thursday and will now look to put the icing on the cake with a potential goalfest when they host Fiorentina on Sunday in their first home game as new champions.
Having inevitably run out of gas towards the business end of such a phenomenal campaign, which also took them to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time, Napoli have won just one of their last six games in all competitions. In fact, the 1-1 home draw against Salernitana spoiled a long-overdue celebration party in Naples.
But with the title in the bag, this means that Napoli enter much more relieved without any pressure in the last five rounds. So expect some more free-flowing stuff from them between now and the end of the season.
While the Partenopei will be brimming with confidence ahead of the visit of Fiorentina, the visitors are no pushovers and have crushed everything in their path since mid-February. But recent obstacles have significantly hampered their point accumulation. They are on a three-game unbeaten run. But only one victory from the last six before this visit has dealt a big blow to their upsurge in the Serie A table.
Napoli ! Now that’s a champions parade wow pic.twitter.com/jWIk66w9mj
— Anthony Mahoney (@AnthonyMahoney3) May 6, 2023
The truth of the matter is that this game is essentially a dead-rubber fixture for both of these teams, with Fiorentina having bigger fish to fry. They have nothing but pride left to play for in Serie A down the final stretch. Wednesday’s entertaining 3-3 stalemate at draw specialists Salernitana effectively ended the visitors’ faint aspirations of forcing their way back into the European fight.
Their upcoming UEFA Europa Conference League date with FC Basel and this month’s Coppa Italia final will be their priorities. Still, Vicenzo Italiano’s side will want to give a good account of themselves in Naples as they look to gain momentum ahead of a season-defining run of games.
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The scenes in the Napoli dressing room 🔥 pic.twitter.com/rBU8M5mKgg
— GOAL (@goal) May 5, 2023
Luciano Spalletti will still be without the services of Mario Rui and Matteo Politano, who are both ruled out for the season. But he should be able to rely on his preferred starting line-up this Sunday. It has generally been the same core group of players throughout the season, and they have surely done their job well, wrapping up the title with five games spare.
Spalletti is unlikely to make many changes to the side that played out a 1-1 draw against Udinese last time out, with the Partenopei lining up in a 4-3-3 formation in front of goalkeeper Alex Meret. Amir Rrahmani and Kim Min-jae ought to form the central defensive unit for the home team.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Mathias Olivera should be the two full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively. The onus will be on the duo to provide width upfield for the hosts while also remaining responsible defensively. Stanislav Lobotka and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa will line up as central midfielders.
Piotr Zielinski could be joining them in the middle of the park to start with. But he will essentially serve as the attacking midfielder and look to provide an additional goal threat while also linking up with the wingers, who ought to be the electric presences of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Hirving Lozano.
Victor Osimhen slotted home seven minutes after the break to earn Napoli a 1-1 draw at Udinese on Thursday, and he will look to continue his prolific scoring season here.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Kim, Rrahmani, Olivera; Anguissa, Lobotka, Zielinski; Lozano, Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia
Fiorentina’s recent results in the league have not been helpful in their bid for a lower-tier European place. But they have been entertaining to watch. For example, before playing out a 3-3 draw against Salernitana, they absolutely thrashed Sampdoria 5-0.
La Viola will make this trip without the services of second-choice shot-stopper Salvatore Sirigu, who is still out with an Achilles injury. Lucas Martinez Quarta is also unavailable due to an accumulation of yellow cards. Fiorentina will otherwise have a full squad to choose from for the game.
A 4-2-3-1 formation with some healthy rotation appears to be the flavour of the day, as Vicenzo Italiano will have one eye on his side’s upcoming cup games. Pietro Terracciano should start in goal as the last line of defence for the home team. The backline should be a flat four of Dodo, Nikola Milenkovic, Igor Julio, and Aleksa Terzic.
Work work work. ⚜️#ForzaViola #Fiorentina #ACFFiorentina pic.twitter.com/EVsQgP7ZOe
— ACF Fiorentina English (@ACFFiorentinaEN) May 5, 2023
Sofyan Amrabat will start in the midfield double pivot alongside Rolando Mandragora. The duo is expected to provide Fiorentina with the control needed to launch attacks. The thing that is encouraging for Vincenzo Italiano is that his team have improved their goalscoring performance significantly and have looked lethal in attack in recent weeks.
Christian Kouame and Riccardo Saponara should provide the width upfront, with Antonin Barak slotting in the No. 10 role, looking to create some good scoring opportunities for striker Luka Jovic. The likes of Arthur Cabral and Nicolas Gozalez could be rested for this one.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Terracciano; Dodo, Milenkovic, Igor, Terzic; Amrabat, Mandragora; Kouame, Barak, Saponara; Jovic
- Napoli are unbeaten in 17 of their last 19 home league games but have kept only three clean sheets in their last nine home Serie A matches.
- Fiorentina are unbeaten in ten of their last 11 games.
- Napoli have conceded at least one goal in three of their last four league games.
- Fiorentina have scored two or more goals in four of their last five games.
- After scoring a Scudetto-winning goal in Udine, Victor Osimhen could create a new record on Sunday and become the most prolific African player in Serie A history. He and AC Milan’s great George Weah are currently leveled at 46 goals each.
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With 22 goals in 27 league games, Victor Osimhen leads the Serie A scoring charts, sitting three ahead of runner-up Lautaro Martinez of Inter. And his attacking contribution has propelled Luciano Spalletti’s well-oiled engine to first place.
The Nigerian’s strike was enough to halt the second-longest period to elapse between two Scudetto triumphs, securing the Partenopei’s place at the podium for the first time since 1990. With top European teams keen on signing him, he will look to continue his brilliant run of form.
Napoli 2-2 Fiorentina
Of course, Napoli will be eager to put on a bit of a show against Fiorentina in front of their home fans, who will be in a celebratory mood regardless of the scoreline here. Having reached the final of the Coppa Italia and the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League, La Viola won’t be in Naples just to make up the numbers in Napoli’s wild title celebration and will love to spoil the party at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
The visitors will look to test their mettle against their new champions and could make a real game of this one. Expect both teams to make it an entertaining affair thanks to La Viola’s porous defence and free-scoring attack. And the hosts can call upon the outstanding duo of Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. The Hard Tackle thus predicts a 2-2 draw this Sunday.
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