Just two and a half months ago, Napoli lifted the Coppa Italia trophy high as champions after a dramatic Final victory over Fiorentina at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Napoli can't rest on those laurels for too long, though, as the matchups for this year's Coppa journey have been drawn, and the partenopei now know who they could be facing.
The first three rounds take place in August, with the first round of matches coming on the 10th, and the next two rounds spaced out a week apart following that. No Serie A sides will participate until the third round on the 24th, and even those will only be sides that finished lower in the table like Udinese, Sassuolo, and Atalanta. The fourth round isn't played until December 3rd, and then Napoli and the rest of the top eight Serie A sides check in for the round of 16 in mid-January.
While obviously there are numerous potential opponents for Napoli to face, the two biggest names to watch are Udinese and Cesena. Udinese are looking to rebound from a poor 2013/14 season, and Andrea Stramaccioni could be looking to use momentum from a successful Coppa run to inject energy in his league campaign. Cesena have been newly promoted to Serie A for the first time since 2012, and have an interesting roster that could cause a surprise or two.
From there, Napoli could be looking at a date with Walter Mazzarri and Inter Milan, as their round of 16 group is the one that Napoli are drawn against for the next round. Given that Hellas Verona is the only potential threat to Inter in the preceding round (the next best team is likely Perugia, a newcomer to Serie B), it's a pretty safe bet they'll be there in the quarter finals. Knockout matches against beloved former managers are always an interesting affair, so that should definitely be a date to circle on the calendar.
The semi-finals could potentially see Napoli face AC Milan or Torino, with an outside chance of Lazio or Chievo Verona causing an upset or two and making it a step away from the final. Should Napoli make it all the way again, the opposite side of the bracket holds both Juventus and Roma, as well as the opportunity for a Final rematch against Fiorentina.
The Coppa Italia is always an exciting and fascinating competition. This year should be no different, and will come with the added spice of being a title defense. Napoli didn't do so well at that two years ago, but this is a very different side now. Especially with the depth being added this summer, it's not at all unreasonable to expect Napoli to push for a second straight Coppa win, and my what a celebration that could be.
Because, hey, celebrating a treble is always fun.