Napoli could be set to fire coach Walter Mazzarri with the club struggling in the Italian league

Mon, Feb 19, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

Napoli could be set to fire coach Walter Mazzarri with the club struggling in the Italian league

NAPLES, Italy (AP) - Still struggling in the Italian league, defending champion Napoli could be about to make a second coaching change of the season.

Napoli is set to face Barcelona on Wednesday in the round of 16 of the Champions League, but Italian media reports coach Walter Mazzarri could be fired before the first leg following Saturday's disappointing 1-1 draw at home against Genoa.

Mazzarri replaced Rudi Garcia as Napoli coach in November but has collected only 15 points in 12 Serie A matches - worse than his predecessor.

Garcia was fired after amassing 21 points from 12 matches and with Napoli in fourth place in Serie A, 10 points behind league leader Inter Milan.

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Napoli now is 27 points behind Inter, in ninth place and out of the European qualifying places.

Since the end of World War II, only five times has a defending champion finished 20 points or more behind the Serie A chamipon. Juventus has the worst record, finishing 24 points behind champion AC Milan in 1962 a year after winning the title.

Napoli looks a far cry from the team that won the Serie A title last season, thrilling at home and in Europe.

Garcia had taken over this offseason from title-winning coach Luciano Spalletti, who left to take a year-long sabbatical and then was named coach of Italy's national team following Roberto Mancini's resignation.

One of Spalletti's former assistants is favored to take charge: Francesco Calzona, who left Napoli in 2022 to become Slovakia coach.

Calzona was also Maurizio Sarri's main assistant coach at Napoli from 2015-18, when the team was much lauded for its style of play despite not winning anything.

The Slovakia job is Calzona's first role as a head coach. The 55-year-old Calzona helped the team qualify for this year's European Championship.

Italian media reports that Calzona will be given a contract until the end of the season and will be allowed to continue with his duties as Slovakia coach in the meantime.


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