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All change again at crisis club Napoli as Barca come to town

AFP – Napoli are once again trying to start afresh as they face Barcelona in the Champions League after sacking their second manager of a disastrous season.

With the Italian champions ninth in Series A and in a worse position than they were under the first casualty of this wretched campaign, Rudi Garcia, Walter Mazzarri was sacked on Monday night after just three months in charge.

To replace him Napoli’s outspoken owner Aurelio De Laurentiis has plumped for Slovakia coach Francesco Calzona, who has the daunting task of Barca at home for his first match in charge of a top-tier club.

As well as being a glamourous fixture, tonight’s last 16, first-leg clash is a key match for Napoli as the competition is their only chance to grab some glory from a season in which their defence of a historic third league title has long since ended.

Napoli are a whopping 27 points behind league leaders Inter Milan and their chances of qualifying into next season’s revamped Champions League are slim, even if Italy wins a fifth spot.

Calzona’s new team are nine points behind both fourth-placed Atalanta and Bologna in fifth, and have shown little sign of being able to claw back that gap, failing to score in nine of Mazzarri’s matches in all competitions.

But Victor Osimhen should be newly available as he continued his post-Africa Cup of Nations comeback in training on Monday.

Napoli’s new head coach Francesco Calzona. PHOTO: AP