Napoli sack manager Walter Mazzarri days before Champions League clash

Mazzarri took charge of training on Monday but was sacked just days ahead of the match against Barcelona.
SSC Napoli v Genoa CFC - Serie A TIM
SSC Napoli v Genoa CFC - Serie A TIM / Francesco Pecoraro/GettyImages

Sitting ninth and all but out of contention in Serie A, the reigning champions' last hope for silverware is in the Champions League.

At the very least, they're hoping for a good showing.

Perhaps out of that desperation to salvage something from what has been a disappointing season, Napoli took the decision to sack manager Walter Mazzarri only two days before their Champions League match against Barcelona.

Mazzarri's sacking was strongly rumored with the axe expected to come on Monday. Regardless, Mazzarri still took charge in training.

However, Napoli CEO Aurelio De Laurentiis confirmed Mazzarri's sacking on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"I thank Walter Mazzarri, a friend of the De Laurentiis family and of Napoli, for supporting the team in a complex moment," De Laurentiis wrote. "It will remain in the hearts of Neapolitans and our family. Welcome back to Fancesco Calzona, who has already worked with us with both [Maurizio] Sarri and [Luciano} Spalleti."

Expectations for Napoli were high given what they accomplished last season in winning the Scudetto and going on a deep run in the Champions League.

The departure of Spalletti has proven to be the turning point as Napoli have been unable to find a suitable replacement.

Following Spalletti's departure, Napoli hired Rudi Garcia. He lasted a couple of months before being sacked in November after seemingly fallen out with high-profile players. Mazzarri took over from Garcia but results were more or less the same.

Sacking the manager before the first leg of a Champions League match is undoubtedly going to raise eyebrows. The thinking behind the firing appears to be the famous "new manager bounce" where a simple change is enough for an immediate, albeit short, reaction from the players.

But with two days until the match, it's unlikely Calzona is going to be able to have any real impact. The impact, if any, is going to be more of an emotional rather than a tactical one.

We'll see if the change will bear fruit on Wednesday. If it does, it may fall more towards Barcelona being a mess themselves rather than anything Calzano is able to implement in the roughly day and a half of his mandate.