Fiorentina v Napoli

Fiorentina v Napoli Match Preview, scouting and predictions


Fiorentina will have the match-point to seal an eighth-place finish against a dejected and depleted Napoli in the penultimate Serie A round.

  Serie A Week 36 – Friday 17 May  2024 – Stadio Artemio Franchi | Preview by Enrico Passarella



Fiorentina have found pace almost surprisingly in the recent fixtures, as they have clearly been focusing more on the cups, prevailing in three of the last four. The schedule was far from impossible, but they slipped up only against Hellas Verona and topped Salernitana, Sassuolo, and Monza in the past month. As they say, winning helps winning.

They have one, and not two, shot at a trophy this season as they ran into the Atalanta buzzsaw in the Coppa Italia semifinals. They would deserve it after losing two final last season. Slightly dismissing domestic play causes Vincenzo Italiano to catch a lot of flack in town, but one could argue that their position wouldn’t be much different if they keyed on league play. Still, Bologna’s success is making a lot of teams unhappy and envious. They aren’t far off in terms of roster quality, but they have been unable to catch lighting in a similar fashion. Truth be told, it’s a real rarity throughout history.

Despite having a game in hand, versus La Dea, and it’s preposterous that it will be played after the end of the season, they are unlikely to be able to close the gap with the teams ahead of them. Lazio are in a groove and Roma should bounce back with fewer things on their plate. They’d probably gladly avoid playing in the Europa Conference League again, but taking it home is the only way to avoid doing so. Having the final in Athens against a Greek team is far from ideal.

Italiano has reportedly reached the end of his run, although the coaching carousel isn’t over until the fat lady sings. There are always surprises in June when gaffers and teams don’t get their wishes granted. However, they are indeed at the point where, in order to get to the next level, they either significantly improve the squad or bring in a new voice with fresh concepts. The second route is less expensive. There are a few interesting up-and-comers out there, but, despite the flaws, it will be harder for them to do markedly better on the bench. They could be in for a rude awakening if they botched their call.

It would be least surprising if a few players decided it was time to move as well, and the club would have to be ready to seize the opportunity for a proper retool. There probably won’t be a mass exodus, but they have question marks in pretty much every role.

Regardless of the role, the thing they need the most to compete for loftier objectives is big-ticket players. Nicolas Gonzalez is arguably their only star since Nikola Milenkovic has taken a tumble for one reason or the other this campaign and Giacomo Bonaventura has a lot of miles on him.

They have made do by distributing the scoring, but the single-best acquisition they could make is a top-end striker. It became clear pretty quickly that Lucas Beltran wasn’t that, but he has been serviceable as a no.10. He’ll be a fine Robin in a different system too. Andrea Belotti hasn’t been great and probably won’t be redeemed since his wages are substantial. The ghost of Dusan Vlahovic still looms. A marksman who can fill his boots masks a lot of defects, and that’s where they should dedicate most of their budget, which probably won’t be that rich without relevant departures.

Arthur has been a minor revelation, but they pretty much did Juventus’ bidding by signing him on loan with slim chances of retaining him permanently given their option to buy and especially their wages. Conversely, Maxime Lopez coming in with that formula spares them a headache as he has been paltry, to say the least. A distributor will surely be a priority with any coach and formation.

They are in a good spot on the defensive wings, if they keep Micheal Kayode, while they could use a pair of new ones up front, as they are still super lopsided and too dependent on Gonzalez, whose future isn’t so certain either.

It’ll be an odd one lineup-wise since they were either coming off a midweek game or had one on the horizon for multiple months in a row. It might be too early to load manage ahead of the final, so they should go with their best XI, minus dings and bruises. It remains to be seen what that looks like, though, as they have a lot of contributors at the same level.

Expected XI (4-2-3-1): Terracciano; Dodo, Milenkovic, Quarta, Biraghi; Arthur, Mandragora; Gonzalez, Beltran, Kouamé; Belotti. 

Doubts:  Dodo/Kayode, Arthur/Bonaventura, Belotti/Nzola.

Injury report: Belotti (ankle knock), Ikone (hip soreness) – Probable. 

Sottil (collarbone fracture ) – OUT.




Even though things started going south early, and the multiple coaching chances ended up having no benefits whatsoever, it’s still disappointing that Napoli didn’t show any sense of pride in their title defense. Not competing for a Champions League berth in a season where Serie A will have five, or perhaps six, representatives is inexcusable.

At this point, also considering some of their president’s previous remarks, they might think that they are better off not even pursuing the qualification to the Europa Conference League. Therefore, their level of interest and effort in this one will have to be verified. Bologna are a tough cookie, but they weren’t exactly in helluva form before the last round, and they helped them out greatly by coming out as flat as possible. They seemingly snubbed the two other continental competitions once the top one started to be a mirage, but every shot at a trophy should be cherished, especially by a team whose history is far from grand despite their recent success.

Surely, the talks about the future have driven attention away from the pitch. The campaign could have still been salvaged a couple of months ago. They’ll end up behind several sides with an inferior squad, which is further proof that motivation and mentality make all the difference. But the mess doesn’t derive just from the confusion they have had on the bench, nor will it simply be solved with the right hire.

There’s no doubt Aurelio De Laurentiis got a big head following the Scudetto, thinking he was the sole architect of their triumph. It turned out that Luciano Spalletti and Cristiano Giuntoli were key and couldn’t be just replaced with run-of-the-mill options. Hopefully, he’ll have learned his lesson from a personal relationship standpoint too.

The call about their next coach will be pivotal in determining their approach to try to return, if not to winning ways, at least to the first three or four positions. The gap created by this hellish campaign and the departure of Victor Osimhen will probably be too wide to be closed in one summer, even should they bat a thousand on the transfer market. A multi-year rebuild will be easier with Vincenzo Italiano, Gian Piero Gasperini, or an up-and-comer who hasn’t emerged yet at the helm than with Antonio Conte or Stefano Pioli.

This campaign has been so bitter that it wouldn’t be stunning if their patron acted differently from the patient and brilliant MO that eventually took them to the top thanks to pristine scouting, cost-effective acquisitions, and timely sales and opted to splurge to wash away the bad taste in his mouth. It’d be uncharacteristic; plus, appointing a young director and not playing in the Champions League are signals that point in the opposite direction.

While the rumors swirl, they’ll have to make sure Osimhen is the only cornerstone who flees. It’s odd that’s a fait accompli already following a never-ending saga to extend his contract last year. If that was the pre-determined purpose, they should have pulled the plug last summer when he was at the peak of his powers. He’s still been solid and occasionally great when he managed to stay healthy for multiple games in a row, but they surely would have gotten more last summer for him then. Other teams must have surely noticed that he gets hurt more than your average star.

It’ll be paramount to pinpoint three or four linchpins and protect them at all costs, even though a lot of them have had rough years. In that sense, coming to terms on a renewal with Khvicha Kvaratskhelia early should be the first order of business to have windows with positive vibes more centered more on the additions than on the buzz about sales. Stanislav Lobotka is one of the few who saved face and would be mighty hard to replace. Matteo Politano has been just fine, while Amir Rrahmani and especially Frank Anguissa and Giovanni Di Lorenzo have been a notch below, but they can’t go into the transfer market session thinking they could upgrade on ten-plus players. Most will bounce back in a better situation.

Expected XI (4-3-3): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Jesus, Olivera; Anguissa, Lobotka, Cajuste; Politano, Raspadori, Kvaratshkhelia. 

Doubts:  Jesus/Ostigard, Cajuste/Traoré, Raspadori/Simeone. 

Injury report: Osimhen, Gollini (muscle fatigue), Rui (knee soreness), Zielinski (thigh strain) – OUT. 



Fiorentina Win – Under 2.5 Goals

Enrico Passarella

Contributor for @footitalia1 | Serie A | News, Transfers, Betting |