Napoli is making a managerial change by relieving Walter Mazzarri of his duties before the club begins the UEFA Champions League round of 16. Napoli has been struggling mightily this season after winning the Scudetto in the 2022/23 campaign. The departure of Luciano Spalletti has prevented Gli Azzurri from reaching last season’s heights. However, the club brought in Mazzarri to salvage something positive out of this season.

That has not been the case. A midseason replacement for Rudi Garcia, Mazzarri won just four games out of his 12 Serie A contests in charge. While the Italian did see Napoli through the group stage in the UEFA Champions League. Domestically, Napoli has fallen to ninth in the Serie A table. Remarkably, this makes Napoli the worst defending champions in the last 60 years of Serie A. Currently 27 points behind league leaders Inter Milan, that is the largest gap a defending champion has faced at this stage of the competition in the last six decades.

Initially, reports stated the upcoming round of 16 clash in the UEFA Champions League against Barcelona would be Mazzarri’s last chance to save face at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium. Now, his fate is secured days before that game starts. According to several reports, the draw at home against Genoa in the recent matchday was Mazzarri’s final game in charge. Fabrizio Romano is stating Napoli has already targeted a replacement manager that will last until the end of the 2023/24 campaign. That coach’s first game in charge will be against the defending LaLiga champions, Barcelona.

Napoli replaces Walter Mazzarri with a familiar face

In a perfect world for Napoli supporters, Luciano Spalletti would step away from his job with the Italy national team to lead Napoli once again. That is not the case, but Napoli is getting someone who spent time in the system with Spalletti. Francesco Calzona, a former technical coach and assistant manager at Napoli, will head the club in his first first-team job at club level.

Calzona is the head coach of the Slovakia national team, where the Italian has had relative success. With a 50% win rate through 14 games, Calzona has helped Slovakia since becoming the side’s head coach in the summer of 2022. The highlight was qualifying for Euro 2024 as a runner-up in Group J. Through 10 games, Slovakia picked up seven wins and a draw. The side did lose twice to Portugal by one goal each time. However, positive results against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iceland propelled Calzona and Slovakia to the tournament proper.

Calzona will stay on as the head coach of the Slovakia national team despite his work with Napoli. Therefore, regardless of what happens in Naples, Calzona will be in the dugout this summer in Germany. Slovakia is in a group with Belgium, Romania and one of the teams qualifying out of the playoff phase.

Slovakia has a friendly against Austria in March. Yet, that will take a backseat to Calzona’s work with Napoli as he looks to guide the side to success in the closing stages of the 2023/24 campaign.