2014 was the last time Napoli players lifted a trophy over their heads after beating Fiorentina in the the Coppa Italia final. Despite a number of record breaking seasons since then, the last five years can best be summed up by close calls and missed opportunities. Consistently being second best in Italy has taken its toll on the fan base and it’s beginning to become more and more evident with every empty seat at the San Paolo. This team has been far too good over the last five seasons to have nothing to show for it.
With the Scudetto realistically out of reach and the Coppa Italia no longer an option, the only thing left to compete for is the Europa League. The Partenopei are among the favorites to win the competition and were blessed with a relatively easy round of 32 draw in FC Zurich (currently 4th place in the Swiss Super League). Other than Arsenal or perhaps a reunion with Sarri at Chelsea, Napoli should like their chances against the rest of the competition. The team will be without the injured Mario Rui and Simone Verdi but still should be able to make easy work of Zurich. Expect Ancelotti to go with a more experimental lineup on Thursday giving the likes of Adam Ounas and Sebastiano Luperto a chance to earn some valuable minutes.
Napoli will most likely travel to Zurich with one eye on the weekend’s match against Torino, but once it gets to the business end of the tournament, look for Ancelotti to prioritize the Europa League. Although the San Paolo is likely to be relatively empty for the return leg next week, a good showing in Europe could be just what the club needs to bring some enthusiasm back to the city.