Napoli begin the new Serie A campaign away to Fiorentina as they look to finally end Juventus' stranglehold on the Scudetto.
The Old Lady have dominated Italian football for the last decade, winning eight consecutive league titles and four domestic cups. The Partenopei have come closest to toppling the mighty Juve in recent years, finishing as runners-up in three of the previous four years.
They will need to be quick out of the blocks if they are to be crowned as champions for the first time since 1990, with the Bianconeri's superb beginning to the 2018/19 campaign meaning the second half of the season was merely a procession as they collected yet more silverware.
Opponents Fiorentina were woeful last term, narrowly avoiding relegation courtesy of a three-point buffer over Empoli in 18th-place.
Here's our preview of the curtain-raiser.
Where to Watch
|When is Kick Off?||Saturday 24 August|
|What Time is Kick Off?||19:45 (BST)|
|Where is it Played?||Stadio Artemio Franchi|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||Premier Sports|
Where to Buy Tickets
Tickets for the game are, as ever, available on both team's official club websites, though membership is required in order to purchase. In terms of resale, both teams provide the option to make season tickets available for others to use, if a supporter is unable to attend the game themselves.
The visitors have a full compliment of players to choose from and could hand a competitive debut to £32m summer purchase Kostas Manolas. The Greece international joined Napoli from fellow Serie A side Roma and is expected to form half of Carlo Ancelotti's first choice centre-back partnership alongside the colossal Kalidou Koulibaly.
The ex-Chelsea boss has a decision to make regarding the number one jersey, with last year's occupant David Ospina making his move from Arsenal permanent over the off-season. However, 22-year-old shot-stopper Alex Meret was also brought in, switching from Udinese for a fee of £20m.
Like the southerners, Fiorentina have no injuries or suspensions to contend with, though they were significantly less active in the transfer market. Franck Ribery has been signed, Kevin-Prince Boateng was acquired from Sassuolo following the end of his loan spell at Barcelona, whilst several lesser-known names were bought to bolster the squad.
|Fiorentina||Dragowski; Venuti, Pezzella, Ranieri, Biraghi; Dabo, Benassi, Castrovilli; Ribery, Chiesa, Boateng.|
|Napoli||Meret; Hysaj, Manolas, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Callejon, Allan, Zielinski, Insigne; Milik, Mertens.|
Head to Head Record
Both of the pair's meetings last term were tight and tense affairs. Ancelotti's recruits claimed a 1-0 victory at Stadio San Paolo in autumn, Lorenzo Insigne netting the winner in the closing stages of the contest.
A delightful scooped through ball by Arkadiusz Milik found the forward in the box and one-on-one with the last defender. Holding the latter off with one arm, Insigne found a yard of space to fire a low snapshot beyond Bartlomiej Drągowski, the Viola 'keeper failing to react to his lightning-quick attempt.
When the sides locked horns once more in the new year, Dragowski proved unbeatable as a sterling display in goal kept Napoli at bay. The Pole's performance ensured a stalemate at Stadio Artemio Franchi, with Neapolitan dreams of lifting the Scudetto left in tatters as Juventus pulled out of sight.
That 0-0 in Florence was the eighth draw between the two. Napoli have had the better of past encounters, however, winning 13 times compared to Fiorentina's five.
The hosts had a mixed pre-season, looking particularly fearsome in their triumph over Galatasaray. Nevertheless, a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal and a 2-1 loss at the hands of Benfica demonstrated that they will struggle to claw their way back back into Europe this term.
They did enough to see off third-tier outfit Monza 3-1 in their Coppa Italia tie on Sunday, whilst Napoli were given a bye into the fourth round of the tournament.
Ancelotti will be demanding a response from his troops after a humiliating home defeat to Barcelona in their final match of pre-season. La Blaugrana's deadly attacking trident of Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele exposed serious issues in their backline, though the return of Koulibaly will no doubt help in that regard.
The Senegalese had been given further time to recover after his exploits at the 2019 African Cup of Nations, but Napoli still looked impressive in some of their games without the centre-back. A 3-0 drubbing of Liverpool will be of huge encouragement to supporters, as will the hard-fought 1-0 win against Marseille.
Here's how the pair got on in their previous five matches:
|Arsenal 3-0 Fiorentina (20/7)||Napoli 3-3 Cremonese (24/7)|
|Fiorentina 1-2 Benfica (25/7)||Liverpool 0-3 Napoli (28/7)|
|Livorno 0-1 Fiorentina (03/8)||Marseille 0-1 Napoli (04/8)|
|Fiorentina 4-1 Galatasaray (11/8)||Barcelona 2-1 Napoli (08/8)|
|Fiorentina 3-1 Monza (18/8)||Napoli 0-4 Barcelona (10/8)|
It is vital that Napoli leave Florence with all three points. A title race with Juve is never an easy task, yet it becomes near-impossible if the Old Lady get a head start.
Fiorentina are vulnerable and the likes of Insigne and Milik should be more than capable of finding a way past the Viola defence. It may not be a pretty victory, but Ancelotti's men should overcome their hosts.
Prediction: Fiorentina 1-2 Napoli