Napoli sack second coach of season before Barcelona UCL tie

Napoli have fired manager Walter Mazzarri ahead of Wednesday's Champions League round of 16 first leg game against Barcelona at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.

The Italian champions have announced that Slovakia coach Francesco Calzona will replace Mazzarri with immediate effect with a deal until the end of the season.

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Calzona, 55, will also remain in charge of the Slovakia and will lead them into the European Championship in Germany.

He becomes Napoli's third different coach of a chaotic campaign in which they have failed to hit the highs of last year's title triumph under Luciano Spalletti.

Saturday's 1-1 draw at home to Genoa spelled the end for Mazzarri, who replaced Rudi Garcia in November having previously coached the club between 2009 and 2013.

Mazzarri, 62, oversaw just six wins in 17 matches and a run of one victory in five games forced president Aurelio De Laurentiis to act ahead of Barça's visit on Wednesday.

Garcia had only been appointed last summer when Scudetto-winning manager Spalletti left to become coach of the Italian national team. Garcia won just eight of his 16 games while in the role.

Napoli won Serie A for the third time in their history last season and the first time since 1990, but their defence of the title has been a disaster.

After drawing with Genoa, they are ninth in the standings, nine points adrift of the Champions League spots and 27 off the pace set by leaders Inter.

Calzona, who was part of Spalletti's coaching staff at Napoli before taking the Slovakia job in 2022, will now be tasked with turning their season around.

The Italian's first game in charge will be against Barça in the Champions League this week, with league games against Cagliari, Sassuolo, Juventus and Torino to follow before the second leg in Spain on March 12.