Napoli hosts Monza at Stadio Maradona on Sunday in their first Serie A home game following a resounding triumph on the season’s opening day.
The Partenopei are ready to face a promoted team that has been ambitious in the transfer market after scoring five goals in Verona, each time through a different scorer.
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The beginning of a new era was heralded by Napoli’s thrashing of Hellas Verona last weekend at Stadio Bentegodi, when the team’s fresh look was evident.
Dries Mertens, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Lorenzo Insigne left the club, and the Campanian club revamped their lineup over the summer break after falling behind in their quest to end a 32-year Scudetto drought. One of the new players made an almost immediate impact, kicking off a victory.
A 37th-minute equalizer by Georgian winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia for his new team was followed by four more goals for Napoli, including star striker Victor Osimhen, who appears poised to continue his impressive form from the close of the previous campaign.
Osimhen has been personally involved in 11 goals in his previous 10 league games, scoring a stunning eight goals and dishing out three assists, re-establishing the Nigerian international as the Azzurri’s go-to player.
Luciano Spalletti has so far averaged 2.1 points per game with Napoli in Serie A; only Maurizio Sarri can claim a better rate in the three points per win era. Despite eventually finishing seven points behind eventual champions Milan last season.
With new recruits arriving in Naples this week, the former Roma coach has been improving his team in the closing days of the transfer window and will be expecting to win against any team, no matter how ambitious they may be, from Serie B.
Monza haven’t faced Napoli in many competitive games due to the distance between the two teams over the most of the clubs’ existence. In fact, their last encounter took place in Serie B in January 2000, when Sunday’s hosts were mired in a serious financial crisis.
Though a lot has changed for the Biancorossi over the past few years, they managed to win the promotion playoffs in May and made it to the top tier for the first time. They now hope to have a significant impact, but their Serie A debut did not go as planned.
In their first match, Monza lost to Torino but Dany Mota’s injury-time goal gave the anticipating home crowd something to cheer about. Giovanni Stroppa also gave some of his many new recruits, including Gianluca Caprari, Pablo Mari, and former Napoli striker Andrea Petagna, a chance to get some playing time.
Strangely, the Lombardy team had eight Italian players in their starting XI, which was at least three more than any other team. This would have no doubt pleased co-owner Silvio Berlusconi, whose influence is still felt at Stadio Brianteo.
Alessio Cragno, Stefano Sensi, and Matteo Pessina, who was named club captain after joining from Atalanta, were not selected by Stroppa, but they may use their expertise for the upcoming challenge: Monza must play Napoli, Roma, and Juventus by mid-September.
Stroppa’s team will be playing against history when they take the field at the Maradona because six of the last seven Serie A newcomers have lost both of their opening two games in the top division.
Napoli has added to its already wide range of scoring options this week, and with their increased firepower, they should be too much for Monza to handle.
The visitors have had a difficult start to life in Serie A and are not yet in a position where they may overturn the current hierarchy.