Fiorentina and Napoli will lock horns at the start of the 2019-2020 season. The match will take place at Fiorentina’s legendary home at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence and will mark the beginning of yet another highly engaging Serie A season.
Both sides will hope for a good start of the season as the stakes for both clubs are higher than ever. Fiorentina will have to redeem themselves after enduring a season to forget, while Napoli will try to finally upstage Juventus and win that much coveted Serie A title.
Montella’s Side Has a Point to Prove
Vincenzo Montella’s side has fared quite badly last season. The team started with Stefano Pioli at the helm, but ended the season with Montella leading the charge. Pioli was loved by both players and fans especially after he gracefully dealt with the tragic and unfortunate death of club captain Davide Astori.
However, Fiorentina’s results didn’t go as planned and soon Pioli found himself in trouble and the board decided to install Vincenzo Motella as his successor. Montella didn’t do much to change the fortunes of the club though and the fact that Fiorentina failed to score in the last five matches of the season speaks volumes about his work at the club.
The team whose goal was to get in the European places and at least compete in the Europa League had to fight for survival until the end of the season thanks to an unremarkable dip in form under Montella’s guidance.
That’s why it is no surprise that Montella’s troops will fight tooth and nail to prove everyone wrong and start the new season in a much better fashion than they ended the last one. After all, that is not something which is new to Fiorentina as they started the previous season by winning their first four games. What’s more, in those games, then Pioli’s men, scored 12 and conceded only 1 goal. At the end of the season, it became apparent that it was that strong start which actually kept them in Italy’s elite competition.
Proving a point is not the only thing that the Fiorentina players will be after. They will also try to save their reputation in front of their home fans as players worthy to wear the famous jersey, something that they haven’t been able to do thus far this year. This is because their last home victory in the Serie A, incredibly, came in 2018. Fiorentina’s last home win was in December and since then they drew 7 and lost 4 games.
One of the most talked about things Fiorentina related was Franck Ribery’s arrival this summer. The Frenchman is the highlight of the Viola’s summer business which also included signing Kevin Prince Boateng and several other lesser known players.
However, it was Ribery’s arrival which got on the front pages of all media outlets in Italy and around the world. This must have been pleasing for Fiorentina’s owners, the Della Valle brothers, as that was probably their goal – by signing Ribery to remind everyone that they were still there.
However, most Viola fans are not happy with this decision as they feel that Ribery arrival’s sole purpose was to draw publicity to the club and at the same time to deflect from the negative performances that the club has been producing since the turn of the year.
These fans definitely have a point as Ribery, who is now 36 years old, will certainly have problems to be the player to take Fiorentina forward. The French international has been struggling with injuries for several years now and has been far from the player that he was 10 years ago. Regardless of how slow Serie A might be when compared to other championships, a 36 year old Ribery will always find it hard to keep up with the pace of the game.
That’s why it makes absolutely zero sense to sign an injury prone player in the twilight of his career on massive wages and then hope that results will improve. Time will tell if Ribery’s critics were right to question his transfer to Fiorentina, but common sense says that they probably are.
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Napoli have been trying to usurp Juventus at the top of Serie A, but with little success these recent years. The Neapolitan side came closest to upstaging Juventus while Sarri was in charge, but even in that season in which the Neapolitans played some beautiful football, Juventus was just too strong.
The roles have now changed. Sarri is the enemy for Napoli fans as he is at the helm of Juventus and it will be his Juventus side that Ancelotti’s men will have to dethrone.
However, what may seemed as an impossible mission, considering how Juventus has won the Scudetto eight years in a row, now seems more realistic than ever for Napoli fans. The club has gone through a small transition last year and are now in much better shape, especially after signing some quality players in the likes of Manolas, Meret, Elmas, Ospina, and Giovanni Di Lorenzo.
Ancelotti’s side had to move on from Sarri-ball onto his preferred style of football, but in reality that was only a small change. Ancelotti is a very flexible manager, and similarly to Sarri, likes to play football in the ‘right’ way. That’s why this change from one manager to another happened quickly at Napoli and last year was a quite successful year for De Laurentis’ club.
Now that the team has Ancelotti’s stamp on its game, and after these several players have been added, one feels that they can be the dark horse that ruins Juventus’ season.
Napoli Needs a Strong Start
However, for their title bid to be successful, Ancelotti’s men must start the season strongly. The memory of Juventus stealing a march on their opponents last year is probably still fresh in the memory of Napoli players and they will have to start strongly to match their Turin counterparts.
To do this it is essential that they win at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence on Saturday evening. That will be easier said than done considering how they failed to defeat FIorentina there four seasons in a row. In fact, Napoli’s last victory in Florence came all the way back in 2014 when Rafa Benitez was still in charge of the Neapolitan club.
Another thing which will make things more difficult for Ancelotti’s men is the fact that their best defensive player, Kalidou Koulibaly, was given an extended leave from the first team’s preparations due to his involvement in the African Nations Cup. This means that new signing Manolas will have to do quite a lot of defensive work against Boateng, Chiesa and possibly Simeone and Ribery.
That is actually the only problem which Ancelotti faces right now as all of his players are fit and raring to go. If Koulibaly starts and is ready to rise to the challenge, then Napoli’s victory will almost be guaranteed.
Gloomy Days for the Viola and Montella
All in all, it seems like Saturday’s match in Florence will be a difficult one, but it also looks like it will be a match which Ancelotti’s men will win eventually. Fiorentina under Montella has looked toothless and it will take a huge change of fortunes for that same team to start playing a whole new brand of football.
What’s more, the pressure of having to turn that losing run from last season into something more palatable for Viola fans will prove too much for Montella and he will probably lose his initial match of the season as a result.
In fact, it will be a smart move for punters checking the odds of Montella being the first Serie A manager to get the sack this season. Fiorentina’s owners are known as being trigger happy and if Montella keeps producing the same results as last year, he will be gone in no time.
De Laurentis on the other hand, can be happy in the knowledge that he has a team which is more than capable of going toe to toe with Juventus even though the names of his players do not sound as famous as those of Juventus. Our prediction is that Napoli will win here and put pressure on Juventus right from the start.