Napoli kicked off the season victory in difficult circumstances, Napoli meet Genoa in their second game of the Serie A season – seeking another win before the international break.
While Luciano Spalletti’s side were able to overcome an early red card to beat Venezia last week, their hosts were thumped by defending champions Inter Milan at San Siro.
When star striker Victor Osimhen was sent off in the opening stages of Napoli’s first game of the 2021-22 campaign, it seemed as though hopes of a positive start under new management would be thwarted by promoted Venezia.
Lorenzo Insigne would go on to miss a penalty, new boss Luciano Spalletti would have been cursing his luck, but the Partenopei battled on to secure a 2-0 win by the final whistle – with Insigne putting things right from the spot before Eljif Elmas made the three points safe.
Though popular coach Gennaro Gattuso may have left Naples earlier this summer, most of the Azzurri’s main men remain in Campania, and Spalletti has now led his new side to seven straight wins, including pre-season friendlies.
They have certainly maintained their attacking momentum of last term, as Napoli have scored in 27 league games in succession – already a club record – and in the history of Serie A, only Juventus and AC Milan have netted in at least 28 consecutive outings.
Presented with the opportunity to match that record on Sunday, they are also one of only three teams in the top five European leagues to have scored in every match this calendar year – along with Bundesliga pair Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.
Despite their penalty-box prowess, Napoli failed to make it into the Champions League at the end of last season, and this week’s Europa League draw sees them matched with Leicester City, Spartak Moscow and Legia Warsaw in a potentially challenging Group C.
Their first group stage fixture will come shortly after the upcoming international period, but first they must take care of domestic matters this weekend.
In contrast to their visitors to Marassi this week, Genoa folded like a pack of cards under pressure in their opening assignment of the new league season.
Two goals down within 14 minutes against Inter last Saturday, the Grifone were fortunate to escape with only a four-goal beating by the Scudetto holders, as they were outfought and out-thought in every department.
Having played his part in keeping them up last season after they had sunk towards the foot of the table before Christmas, head coach Davide Ballardini is under much scrutiny as he continues his fourth spell in charge at the Ligurian outfit.
Perhaps significantly, he has never lasted more than 40 games at any one club, and has now overseen 28 since his appointment last December.