The reveal of the 2019-20 Serie A fixture list on July 29 brought us a step closer to what promises to be another exciting season of Calcio. Just within the first five matchdays, fans will be treated to the Derby della Capitale and Derby della Madonnina, as well as key fixtures and rivalries such as Inter-Lazio, Fiorentina-Juve, Fiorentina-Napoli and Juventus-Napoli.
Napoli, in particular, have been dealt what may easily be the toughest set of opening fixtures for any of the Serie A teams. The Partenopei kick their season off with two away trips, first to Florence to take on La Viola, then north to Turin to face off against heated rivals Juventus. On top of that, matches against Sampdoria, Atalanta and Torino all take place within Napoli’s first 10 matchdays, coinciding with the Champions League. It's a run of fixtures that'll surely impact their odds of success this season with the best betting sites.
While at first glance this tough set of opening fixtures may seem like a minefield that Carlo Ancelotti will have to navigate his side through, getting into the thick of it all right from the start can be considered an advantage for Ancelotti and his players. The Neapolitan club has done well to retain the services of key players such as Lorenzo Insigne, Allan and Dries Mertens, whose futures were uncertain with Napoli, as well as sell on some of their dead-weight players.
Aside from the ongoing rumors of James Rodriguez and Mauro Icardi’s potential transfers to the Partenopei, the players Napoli have secured add to the depth and quality within the club. Kostas Manolas and Giovanni Di Lorenzo have joined from Roma and Empoli to further strengthen what has been a strong backline, and promising Turkish midfielder Eljif Elmas arrived from Fenerbahçe to bolster an already young, talented midfield. These signings seem solid fits for the style of play that Ancelotti prefers, and they don’t derail Napoli from the direction they’re headed.
Compare this stability to their first two opponents, and Napoli come out on top in this regard.
Fiorentina, for example, enter the 2019-20 Serie A season off the back of a disastrous league campaign. La Viola looked to be set for relegation after finishing the season on a 14-game winless streak, but a goalless draw with Genoa on the final matchday saw them remain in the first division.
Heading into the new Serie A season, the club was purchased by Rocco Commisso, who also owns the New York Cosmos. The Commisso era has begun with a lot of promise, with the signings of Kevin-Prince Boateng and Pol Lirola joining what is still a talented squad. However, while the return of Vincenzo Montella and new investment gives Fiorentina tifosi much to hope for, you can’t help but believe that the countless changes made throughout the club so far this summer will lead to some growing pains once the season kicks off.
As for Juventus, they are favourites to win the league once again. However, the appointment of Maurizio Sarri as Coach creates a bit of uncertainty. How long will this revamped Juventus side take to adhere to Sarri’s demanding system? With Chelsea, Sarri saw direct results as the Blues went 12 games unbeaten to start the season, but the considerable drop-off towards the end of their Premier League campaign is what likely cost Sarri his job.
Chelsea’s slump can be attributed to the physical demands of Sarri’s style, and while Juve seem better fit to adapt to the 60-year-old tactician’s system, the transition-period could leave La Vecchia Signora vulnerable at the start the 2019-20 Serie A season.
Additionally, Napoli’s trip to the Allianz Stadium just two weeks into the campaign means the mind games start early between the two favourites. Sarri will have to get his new side firing on all cylinders quickly to face his past, a club where the former banker made a name for himself and created a culture of football that rivaled the long-standing Italian tradition of defend-first.
Whether or not Juve will be up to speed come Week 2 is yet to be seen, but for the Bianconeri, an early visit from the Partenopei will be the biggest litmus test.
Napoli being the most stable heading into the new season is a huge advantage. Among the top clubs in Italy (Juve, Inter, Milan and Roma), Napoli are the only side heading into the upcoming league campaign with the same Coach as last term. It makes the run of early big fixtures a potentially decisive element in their favour.