Napoli sack Mazzarri ahead of Barca clash

Walter Mazzarri has been sacked by Napoli to become the second man sent packing by the ailing Italian champions this season, Italian media reported on Monday.

The 62-year-old took charge in November after Rudi Garcia was dismissed but Napoli have since fallen to ninth in Serie A ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League last 16 clash with Barcelona.

Slovakia national team coach Francesco Calzona is set to be hired until the end of the season and will be in charge for the first-leg visit of Barca.

Calzona guided Slovakia to Euro 2024 but has a huge job on his hands as he returns to Napoli where he was an assistant during Luciano Spalletti’s trophy-less first season with the club.

Calzona will reportedly keep his job with Slovakia and bring with him Marek Hamsik, Napoli’s top all-time appearance maker who was also the first man to beat Diego Maradona’s scoring record for the club.

Napoli romped to a historic third Scudetto last term but since title-winning coach Spalletti stepped down in the close season, chaos has reigned in Naples.

Napoli are a whopping 27 points behind league leaders Inter Milan after winning just four of 12 league matches since Mazzarri took over, collecting 15 points.

That is even less than the 21 that Garcia managed from his 12 league matches in charge, a total that had Napoli fourth when the Frenchman was dismissed.

The chances of Napoli getting back into the top four and next season’s revamped Champions League are exceedingly slim, even if Italy wins a fifth spot.

Napoli are nine points behind both fourth-placed Atalanta and Bologna in fifth, and have shown little sign of being able to claw back that gap, failing to score in nine of Mazzarri’s matches in all competitions.

It is a disappointing end to Mazzarri’s brief second spell in charge of Napoli, after helping return southern Italy’s biggest club to the upper echelons of Italian football between 2009 and 2013.

Mazzarri guided Napoli to the 2012 Italian Cup, beating undefeated league champions Juventus in the final to win the club’s first trophy in over two decades.

He left in May 2013 after finishing second in Italy’s top flight with a thrilling team which boasted Ezequiel Lavezzi, Marek Hamsík and Edinson Cavani in attack.


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