Napoli's Champions League Hopes in Jeopardy After 1-0 Loss to Empoli

Napoli's Champions League hopes dashed after 1-0 defeat to Empoli, leaving them 6 points behind 5th-placed Roma with 5 games left. Coach Calzona apologizes, vows to work on players' pride and determination.

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Quadri Adejumo
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Napoli's Champions League Hopes in Jeopardy After 1-0 Loss to Empoli

Napoli's Champions League Hopes in Jeopardy After 1-0 Loss to Empoli

Napoli suffered a 1-0 defeat against Empoli in Serie A on Saturday, jeopardizing their chances of qualifying for the Champions League. The loss leaves Napoli in 8th place, 6 points behind 5th-placed Roma with only 5 rounds remaining in the season.

Empoli's Alberto Cerri scored the only goal of the match in the 4th minute with a header. Napoli managed just one shot on goal, with Kvicha Kvaratskhelia's effort being saved by Empoli goalkeeper Elia Caprile.

Napoli coach Francesco Calzona apologized to the fans after the match, acknowledging that the team lacked the desired intensity and desire to perform. "The attitude of the players was unimaginable," Calzona said. "We were sluggish and timid from the start. I take responsibility for this performance."

Napoli has struggled throughout the season, having won just 3 of their last 9 Serie A matches since Calzona replaced Walter Mazzarri as head coach in February. The club's title defense is now in jeopardy, with the team sitting 34 points behind league leaders Inter Milan.

Why this matters: Napoli's loss has significant implications for the race for Champions League spots in Serie A. With Italy being granted 5 places in the Champions League instead of 4 after securing a top 2 spot in the UEFA coefficient standings, the competition for those spots is more intense than ever.

Calzona vowed to work on the players' pride and determination in training, as the new signings have struggled to make an impact during what he called a "cursed campaign" for the club. Napoli fans protested the team's performance, with the ultras calling for the coach to play the youth team in the remaining matches. "I apologize to the fans, especially those who traveled here," Calzona said. "Their protest is justified."

Key Takeaways

  • Napoli suffered a 1-0 defeat against Empoli, jeopardizing their Champions League hopes.
  • Napoli is 8th in Serie A, 6 points behind 5th-placed Roma with 5 rounds left.
  • Napoli coach Calzona apologized, acknowledging lack of intensity and desire to perform.
  • Napoli has won just 3 of their last 9 matches since Calzona replaced Mazzarri.
  • Napoli fans protested, calling for the youth team to play in remaining matches.