Last season’s champions, Napoli, face the Coppa Italia runners-up, Fiorentina, in the semi-final that will open the revamped Italian Super Cup this Thursday.
The trophy, for the first time, will be contested amongst four teams with Inter (the holders and last year’s Coppa Italia winners) playing Lazio (who finished behind Napoli in Serie A) on Friday.
After hosting last week’s Spanish Super Cup, Saudi Arabia will continue to do the honours.
Napoli played again poorly at the weekend but managed to secure a vital win in stoppage time against Salernitana.
Three points adrift from the fourth spot in Serie A (occupied incidentally by their rivals Fiorentina) but having already lost ten games and out of the Coppa Italia, the Supercoppa Italiana is realistically the only trophy Napoli can aspire to win during this troubled season.
The champions are a shadow of the side that impressed in 2022/2023, and the effects of manager Luciano Spalletti’s departure have been clearly underestimated.
Walter Mazzarri is struggling to restore the confidence and harmony that Napoli players had under the reassuring but steely guide of Italy’s current head coach.
Napoli have won only four of Mazzarri’s first 11 games in charge, as they failed to score in six out of nine matches since December. In contrast, they’re all but watertight, having kept only seven clean sheets in all competitions.
January’s transfer market has brought (Pasquale Mazzocchi) and will bring (Bournemouth’s winger Hamad Traore is close to join) reinforcements, but it is unlikely the effects will be felt during the course of this competition.
Napoli are actually worryingly short in midfield and without their main man, Victor Osimhen, who’s playing at AFCON.
Fiorentina were held 2-2 at home by Udinese as they produced, once again, a highly frustrating performance for their fans.
In particular, in the first half their ball circulation was too slow and almost ineffective, with Jonathan Ikone and Josip Brekalo unable to provide any kind of spark up front.
Italiano changed formation at half-time and La Viola woke up but needed a late penalty to rescue a point, which is not more that what they ultimately deserved.
Fiorentina’s attacking numbers lately are not as good as they used to be. They scored a club record 109 goals in 2023, but in the seven games played between 10 December and 9 January, they only scored five times, drawing a blank twice, against Sassuolo and Bologna in Coppa Italia.
This negative moment has coincided with the absence of Fiorentina’s key attacking player, winger Nicolas Gonzalez (eight goals and two assists in all competitions) who came off injured against Roma.
Fiorentina need peace on the wings to develop their attacking play, and too often their crossing game has been very predictable.
Last year’s Serie A top goalscorer, Victor Osimhen, is at the AFCON, and so Giacomo Raspadori, who stated on the bench against Salernitana, will take his place.
Napoli have big issues in midfield as midfielder Zambo Anguissa is also at the Africa Cup Of Nations, Piotr Zielinski missed the game last Saturday due to fatigue and Cajuste is also a doubt. Diego Demme has picked up a knock in training on Monday.
Walter Mazzarri also has to deal with the absences of goalkeeper Meret and defenders Oliveira and Natan. Pasquale Mazzocchi will be available after suspension.
For Fiorentina, apart from the big absentee Nicolas Gonzalez, also Kouame (AFCON), Dodò and Castrovilli are not available. Riccardo Sottil might make a late-minute recovery from his muscular injury.
Both centre-forwards scored at the weekend, but Lucas Beltran (six goals this season) is ahead of N’Zola (four goals) to lead La Viola’s attack on Thursday.
Arthur, started on the bench against Udinese, and will play from the first minute, but Riccardo Mandragora might retain his place at the expenses of Alfred Duncan.
Napoli vs Fiorentina Odds:
Despite being the current Italian Champions, Napoli are only slight favourite (13/10) to advance to the Supercoppa final and that’s because they’re behind Fiorentina in Serie A and lost to them 3-1 at the Maradona in October.
La Viola have a good record against the Partenopei, having been defeated only once in the last five matches.
A win for Vincenzo Italiano’s side pays well (9/5), however this season Fiorentina have had mixed results against top teams in Italy. In fact, they beat Atalanta, Bologna and Napoli, lost to Inter, Lazio, Milan and Juventus (without scoring in none of these four matches) and drew 1-1 against Roma.
The odds for the draw are appealing (11/5) if you consider Fiorentina’s last two knockout ties in Coppa Italia both went to extra-time and penalties.
Under 2.5 Goals pays slight less (4/5) than Over (10/11) as 63% of Napoli’s matches and 50% of Fiorentina this season have ended with at least three goals scored.
Highest Scoring Half: Second @ 21/20
Being amid-week cup tie played abroad, and considering the amount of key players who’ll miss the match, it’s hard to imagine a goal fest.
Both teams have got far too many issues to expect them to express themselves at their best.
Betting on the 0-0 correct score (13/8) after the first 45 minutes might not be a bad shout.
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia anytime goalscorer @ 13/5
His numbers are down compared to last season: only five goals and five assists, whereas in 2022/2023 the Georgian found the net 14 times and provided 17 assists.
But that’s not due to lack of trying, in fact Kvaratskhelia is the player who has had the most shots so far in Serie A (66), which highlights that defenders are still finding it hard to stop him.
What ‘Kvaradona’ is missing this year is the confidence in front of goal, in fact he’s also the player who has squandered the most ‘big chances’ in Italy’s top flight (10 in total).
Certainly, he hasn’t become a bad player in the space of a summer, and this trip to Saudi Arabia might help him to re-discover his scoring boots.
You can check out all of Daniele's Serie A Betting Tips here each week along with those of our other Italian Football writers...