With both emerging victorious from the opening round of matches, this weekend’s clash between Napoli and Fiorentina (Sunday 2nd September, 19:45 GMT) promises to be an intriguing one.
Napoli trounced Palermo 3-0 last weekend, displaying the sort of clinical efficiency on the counter attack that has become their hallmark. The departure of Ezequiel Lavezzi to Paris Saint-Germain has caused coach Walter Mazzarri to reshuffle his formation to a 3-5-1-1, with Marek Hamsik taking on a slightly deeper role than before – a subtle change but one that reaped handsome rewards on the opening day.
Fiorentina were also highly impressive, despite the slender margin of their 2-1 win at home to Udinese. The arrival of new coach Vincenzo Montella earlier this summer was followed by a frenzied accumulation of classy midfielders and stern defenders, a combination that the club hope will yield attractive football and good results. 64% of the possession, some sparkling play and three points on the opening day certainly suggest that is possible.
It is relatively easy to make a case for either of these teams coming away with the spoils on Sunday. Napoli are masters at soaking up opposition pressure and breaking quickly to score, while Fiorentina last week displayed a uncanny ability to control the direction of a match.
However, the Viola currently lack a proven penalty area goalscorer and the club’s frustration, in the wake of Dimitar Berbatov pulling out of a move to the Artemio Franchi, confirmed their recognition of this deficiency. It was often their undoing last season and almost proved to be again last weekend as, despite dominating Udinese, their winner only arrived in the final minute of play.