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Six Fixtures That will Define Napoli’s Season

Napoli go in to the 2018-19 season after a summer of change, most notably Carlo Ancelotti replacing Maurizio Sarri on the bench.

The Partenopei amassed 91 points last season but still weren’t able to pip Juventus to the Scudetto, leading President Aurelio De Laurentiis to turn to one of the world’s most successful Coaches.

The past three seasons have been based around ‘Sarrismo’, Sarri’s trademark style, and it’ll be interesting to see how they react now he and the crucial cog in his machine, Jorginho, have decamped to Chelsea.

Here are six fixtures which could define Napoli’s season.

Lazio vs Napoli – Week 1
Carlo Ancelotti couldn’t have asked for a much tougher start to his Napoli career, with a tough run of fixtures to start the season.

His side face Lazio away, Milan at home, Sampdoria away, Fiorentina at home, Torino away, Parma at home and Juventus away in the first four fixtures.

It will be crucial to hit the ground running, and we’ll get a good idea of where Carletto’s side are as they travel to Roma on the opening weekend.

Juventus vs Napoli – Week 7
Last season it quickly became apparent that Maurizio Sarri was focused on Serie A at the expense of Europe.

Though Napoli were drawn in a tough Champions League group with Manchester City and Shakhtar Donetsk, many – Pep Guardiola included – felt they were one of the better sides in the competition.

A meek Europa League exit followed and Sarri’s strategy ultimately backfired, his side ending the season trophyless despite a heroic effort in Serie A.

Carlo Ancelotti is a European specialist, so it will be interesting to see if he focuses more attention on the Champions League.

His side meet Juventus in Week 7, before their second Champions League group game that midweek.

After a tough start to the season, how will the Partenopei balance Serie A and Europe?

Udinese vs Napoli – Week 9
In recent seasons, the Partenopei have struggled more with beating the lesser lights of Serie A than with the big guns.

Last time around they beat Juventus in Turin, Lazio home and away, and Roma at the Stadio Olimpico.

It wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect a few dropped points in the opening rounds, so this is one Napoli really have to win.

Napoli vs Juventus – Week 26
Undoubtedly the biggest match in the Neapolitan football calendar is when Juventus come calling.

An already intense rivalry has reached boiling point in recent years, so much so that away fans are routinely barred from attending games between the two.

Last season saw the Partenopei push Juve right to the wire, collecting a hugely impressive 91 points but still being beaten to the punch.

There’s no love lost between Ancelotti and the Bianconeri support after his time in Turin, and this is certain to be a firecracker.

Napoli-Atalanta – Week 33
To say Napoli “stumbled” or “slipped-up” last year would be grossly unfair to a team that broke its own Serie A points record, but it’s certainly true that Sarri’s lack of rotation had an effect.

After beating Juventus in Turin, the Partenopei proceeded to lose 3-0 at Fiorentina and draw 2-2 at home with Torino.

This time around they face Atalanta in Week 33, and if they’re in a favourable position once more they have to make sure there are no dropped points this time around.

The Orobici have been European contenders for the past two seasons, and will put up a fight at the San Paolo.

Napoli vs Inter – Week 37
Inter Coach Luciano Spalletti has had Napoli’s number in recent years, winning two of their three Serie A meetings upon his return to Roma.

Last season his Nerazzurri held Sarri’s side twice, a significant factor given the Vesuviani missed out on the title by only four points.

They face each other at the San Paolo in the penultimate fixture of the Serie A season, where both sides could be gunning for the Scudetto.