A spectacular showing in the 4-1 defeat of Liverpool got the Azzurri’s Champions League campaign off to a perfect start, and they now take on a side who have struggled in Serie A since the opening day.
Only days after recording a come-from-behind win away to likely top-four rivals Lazio in the league, Napoli began their Champions League Group A opener in an altogether more impressive fashion on Wednesday night.
Luciano Spalletti’s men roared into a 3-0 half-time lead against Liverpool, an advantage which could easily have been even greater but for a penalty save by Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and then a last-ditch goal-line block.
Star striker Victor Osimhen packed plenty into his limited time on the pitch, as he struck the post in the opening stages, before Piotr Zielinski, Andre Zambo Anguissa and Osimhen’s replacement Giovanni Simeone all scored – the latter needed just three minutes to find the net on his Champions League debut after coming on as a substitute.
Without scoring, too, bargain summer signing Khvicha Kvaratskhelia – or ‘Kvaradona’ to the Neapolitan locals – proved his worth again, and the Georgian winger has already posted four goals and an assist in five domestic appearances.
During that time new-look Napoli have moved up to second spot in the Serie A standings; two points adrift of early leaders Atalanta.
Unbeaten so far this term, Spalletti’s side also have scored the most goals (12) and attempted the highest number of shots (98) in the Italian top flight, which bodes well for a possible Scudetto challenge in the coming months.
Intriguingly, since Spezia’s first-ever promotion to Serie A two years ago, they have defied their status as provincial outsiders to share two wins apiece with Napoli in the clubs’ four meetings – each time with the winners being the away side.
Now seeking a remarkable third straight victory at the iconic Stadio Maradona, the Ligurians will arrive in Campania on the back of a four-game winless run since they kicked off their 2022-23 league campaign with a home victory over Empoli last month.
Luca Gotti has seen his side stumble to a tally of just two points from four subsequent outings, and after coming from behind at Bologna last week they were unable to hold on; conceding a 64th-minute equaliser by Marko Arnautovic and having to settle for a 2-2 draw.
Spezia have picked up five points or fewer from their first five games of their previous Serie A seasons too, so there is no major cause for concern just yet – especially as fellow strugglers Sampdoria, Monza and Cremonese all await in their next four fixtures.
While the odds of them adding to that tally against such lethal opponents may be slim on Saturday afternoon, recent history suggests that the Aquilotti can at least dream of springing another upset.
Napoli Serie A form:
Napoli form (all competitions):
Spezia Serie A form:
Spezia form (all competitions):
We say: Napoli 2-0 Spezia
Balancing duties at home and abroad will prove a tough task for Napoli, but given their visitors’ current form and their own increasing squad depth, they are set to secure a third straight victory – and their first top-flight win over Spezia at the Maradona.