Walter Mazzarri says Champions League qualification remains possible for Napoli

By Sports Desk February 03, 2024

Napoli head coach Walter Mazzarri has stressed a Champions League place is still attainable for the Serie A title-holders as they prepare to host Hellas Verona on Sunday.

After winning a first Scudetto in 33 years last season under Luciano Spalletti, the Partenopei have had a significant drop off in a 2023-24 campaign that saw new boss Rudi Garcia replaced by Mazzarri in November.

Their nine league games since then have comprised three wins, two draws and four losses, and they are currently ninth in the table, four points behind fourth place.

Asked at a press conference if the Champions League spots remained a realistic objective for Napoli, Mazzarri said: “I don’t look at the table for my own reasons.

“But it’s clear that there are many teams within three to four points, and therefore the objective is possible.”

Since starting the calendar year with a 3-0 loss at Torino, Napoli – still without star striker Victor Osimhen due to international duty with Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations – have won 2-1 at home against Salernitana, beaten Fiorentina 3-0, lost 1-0 to AC Milan in the Supercoppa Italiana and drawn 0-0 at Lazio in their return to league action last weekend.

Mazzarri said: “In the last few games we created little, for various reasons, also due to the strength of the opponents, but we returned solid and balanced, after the very bad performance in Torino.

“It’s clear that we will need to be more aggressive and proactive to create scoring opportunities, perhaps even shooting from outside, because we can’t always enter the area with triangles and penetrations.

“This week we are also working on this aspect and I think we will see the results.”

Napoli face a Verona outfit who went into the weekend just outside the relegation zone, and who brought in a trio of players on transfer deadline day – Stefan Mitrovic, Karol Swiderski and Fabien Centonze.

Boss Marco Baroni told a press conference ahead of the trip to Stadio Diego Armando Maradona: “We need points, but we have to start from the performance.

“These are complicated and difficult stadiums, where we must not be afraid. We will have to play a match of personality, having great respect for the opponent.

“These are teams against which you have to be very careful within the performance. We will need to be compact, focused, and help each other on the pitch.”

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