On Thursday evening, Napoli and Fiorentina will compete in the Stadio San Paolo for their Coppa Italia last-16 match.
The Partenopei are going for their first appearance in the competition this season, while La Viola has already beaten Serie B sides, Cosenza and Benevento, to reach the quarterfinals.
On Sunday, Napoli ended a three-game losing streak with a 1-0 Serie A win against Sampdoria.
Andrea Petagna’s goal with an acrobatic effort on the stroke of half-time ensured all three points for Napoli, who are now six points behind league leaders Inter Milan after playing a game more.
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After a good start to the season, Luciano Spalletti’s team has subsequently endured an uneven run of form over the previous two and a half months, winning and losing five matches each while drawing three times in all competitions.
With a key Serie A match against Inter next week, and a crucial Europa League playoff versus Barcelona to follow in July, Napoli will be looking to build momentum before a critical part of the season.
Napoli has won the Coppa Italia three times in the last ten years, most recently in 2019-20, and has reached the semi-finals on five other occasions. The Partenopei have a good record in the Coppa Italia over the last 10 years, winning it three times (in 2011-12, 2013-14
Thursday’s opponents Fiorentina will provide a significant test for Napoli, but the Partenopei should feel confident of progressing to the round of 16 as they’ve won each of their last three encounters by an aggregate score of 10-1.
After a somewhat uneventful conclusion to 2021, with two draws against Sassuolo and Hellas Verona, Fiorentina began the new year in the worst possible manner on Sunday, losing 4-0 at Torino.
The hosts opened up a three-goal cushion just 18 minutes into the game, thanks to goals from Josip Brekalo (2) and Wilfried Singo, before Antonio Sanabria scored midway through the second half to seal La Viola’s worst league defeat since they were hammered 6-0 by Napoli last January.
Vincenzo Italiano’s side will be anxious to return home and win in Serie A, as they try to close the gap on the European places, but first they must focus on the Coppa Italia, which has evaded them for two decades.
The team’s last success in the Coppa Italia in 2000-01 was their only victory, and since then they have only made it to the final once, losing against none other than Napoli.
They must overcome a Partenopei squad that they have only vanquished twice in their last 17 meetings across all competitions if they are to reach the latter phases of this year’s tournament.
The Brazilian will be hoping his team have learned from their 2-1 loss at home to Napoli in October – a game in which they had the majority of possession throughout the 90 minutes, but were unable to score.