Napoli sack Walter Mazzarri and bring in Francesco Calzona two days before Barcelona Champions League clash

Napoli fired Walter Mazzarri on Monday and hired Slovakia coach Francesco Calzona, just two days before the match against Barcelona in the Champions League.

Mazzarri, 62, became the second manager to be fired by the struggling Italian champions this season.

After Rudi Garcia was fired, Mazzarri took over in November. However, Napoli dropped to ninth place in Serie A ahead of Wednesday’s first leg of the round of 16 match Barcelona at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

“I thank Walter Mazzarri, a friend of the De Laurentiis family and Napoli, for having helped the team in a tricky period,” said Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis wrote on X.

De Laurentiis stated that Calzona had been recruited, apparently until the end of the season, and is going to take charge on Wednesday night.

In a a short interview with Sky Sport, De Laurentiis said, “It’s always painful to sack a friend.” He added, “But we need to consider that in Naples you have to give Napoli fans something extra. Now we’re going to try to do that with Francesco Calzona.”

Napoli is nine points behind fourth-placed Atalanta and fifth-placed Bologna and has shown little sign of closing the gap, struggling to score in nine of Mazzarri’s games across all competitions.

Calzona will make his Serie A debut after Barcelona, against relegation-threatened Cagliari and Sassuolo.

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