Preview: Fiorentina vs. Napoli – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday’s Serie A clash between Fiorentina and Napoli, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Separated by just one place and two points in the Serie A rankings, Fiorentina and Napoli square off at Artemio Franchi in Friday’s fascinating contest.

La Viola followed up their progression to the Europa Conference League final by beating Monza 2-1 on Monday, while their visitors’ winless streak continued at home to Champions League-bound Bologna.

Match preview

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Righting the wrongs of the 2022-23 Europa Conference League final is the overriding goal for Fiorentina between now and the end of the season, as La Viola count down the days until they pit their wits against Olympiacos in the third-tier continental showpiece on May 29.

That showdown in Athens will represent Vincenzo Italiano‘s penultimate match as head coach before he steps down from his post, but his troupe also have a trio of Serie A battles to attend to in the coming weeks as they endeavour to restore some Calcio consistency.

Those efforts appear to be paying dividends, as after edging out Club Brugge in their Conference League semi-final, goals from Nicolas Gonzalez and Arthur Melo propelled Fiorentina to a 2-1 success over Monza on Sunday, their third victory from their last four top-flight games following beatings of Sassuolo and Salernitana.

While hinging on the results of upcoming Coppa Italia and Europa League finals, Fiorentina’s eighth-placed standing in the table may suffice for Europa Conference League football next season, and clambering any higher will be a struggle; they are six points below Lazio with just nine left to play for.

Hypotheticals aside, La Viola can only bid to give Italiano the best kind of send-off in what is anticipated to be his last match in charge of Fiorentina at Artemio Franchi, where his side have both scored and conceded in each of their last seven Serie A games, and not since December have they kept a clean sheet in a top-flight home match.

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Also set for a managerial shake-up in the summer after failing to find the right man to step into Luciano Spalletti‘s shoes, deposed champions Napoli are awkwardly limping towards the 2023-24 finish line, and a spot in European competition for next season is out of their own hands.

Since coincidentally overcoming Fiorentina’s most recent Serie A victims Monza, Francesco Calzona has overseen a dampening five-game winless run in top-flight action, where the 2022-23 Scudetto winners have accrued a mere three points from a possible 15.

The die was cast in Saturday’s battle with Bologna just 12 minutes in, by which point Dan Ndoye and Stefan Posch had already propelled the Rossoblu into a 2-0 lead, one which they would hold onto for the remainder of the match as they confirmed UCL qualification while further denting Napoli’s top-eight aspirations.

The faltering Partenopei may leapfrog Fiorentina into eighth with all three points on Friday, but they have played a game more than their upcoming hosts and are bereft of any sort of defensive discipline, as they have now conceded in each of their last 15 Serie A contests.

With Rudi Garcia at the helm, Napoli were also seen off 3-1 by Fiorentina on home soil in December’s Serie A contest, but they gleaned a slice of revenge with a 3-0 Supercoppa Italiana semi-final success in January and have not lost a top-flight game on the Viola’s turf since April 2018, when Giovanni Simeone was the hosts’ hat-trick hero.

Fiorentina Serie A form:

Fiorentina form (all competitions):

Napoli Serie A form:

Team News

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Having come through the victory over Monza unscathed, the only concern for Fiorentina boss Italiano to take into account is attacker Riccardo Sottil, who has gone under the knife to treat a collarbone fracture sustained in the first leg of their Conference League semi-final.

Sottil’s operation has eliminated his chances of playing in this month’s final, but Italiano’s squad is otherwise in strong shape for Friday night, and he may hold back on making any alterations for now given that his side will enjoy a week-long break in between fixtures after this one.

Neither Jonathan Ikone nor Andrea Belotti were involved in the beating of Monza, but Italiano expressed confidence that the pair will be available here, albeit most likely from the bench as the Viola boss opts against any unnecessary risks.

Meanwhile, Napoli must cope without the services of star striker Victor Osimhen, who was on the pitch for the full 90 against Bologna but has been complaining of knee discomfort, which has plagued him for a while now.

Osimhen’s absence could open the door for ex-Fiorentina striker Simeone to write quite the story against his old team, but Giacomo Raspadori will likely be the first port of call if the Nigerian talisman does not make the cut.

Mario Rui, Pierluigi Gollini and the departing Piotr Zielinski (thigh) are also missing, while Jesper Lindstrom was also limited to individual training this week but has made the cut.

Fiorentina possible starting lineup:
Terraciano; Kayode, Martinez Quarta, Milenkovic, Biraghi; Mandragora, Arthur; Gonzalez, Barak, Castrovilli; Beltran

Napoli possible starting lineup:
Meret; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Jesus, Olivera; Cajuste, Lobotka, Anguissa; Politano, Raspadori, Kvaratskhelia

We say: Fiorentina 2-1 Napoli

While Osimhen has not quite hit the same heights as his 2022-23 Capocannoniere-winning season, his absence would be a significant blow to Napoli’s chances of ending their barren winless run, and rearguard nous on the road often eludes the visitors.

Fiorentina often struggle to bolt the back door shut at home too, but Italiano’s well-stocked squad can counteract any backline mishaps at the other end of the pitch to extinguish Napoli’s European hopes.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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