Napoli missed out on their slim chance to participate in Europe next season after being held to a 0-0 home draw by Lecce in their final Serie A game of the campaign on Sunday.

After a lacklustre first half, Napoli had chances to win the game in the second, with Cyril Ngonge coming closest when he rattled the crossbar.

Patrick Dorgu had already given the Azzurri a scare just nine minutes in, firing Lecce's first shot off Alex Meret's post.

Napoli had to win to climb to ninth place, but instead, finished below Torino, who lost 3-0 to recently crowned Europa League champions Atalanta, due to their head-to-head record.

Torino could now earn a Europa Conference League play-off spot if Fiorentina beat Olympiacos in that final on Wednesday. 

Data Debrief: Napoli's season fizzles out

Napoli finished the season on 53 points - it is the second-worst return for a team that started the season as Serie A reigning champions in the three-point-per-win era after Milan in 1996-97 (43). 

After scoring in each of their 12 home matches against Lecce in Serie A prior to Sunday's match, Napoli failed to find the back of the net against them for the first time at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Dethroned Italian champions Napoli's hopes of playing European football next season are hanging by a thread after they played out a 2-2 draw at Fiorentina in Serie A on Friday.

Napoli took the lead in the eighth minute through defender Amir Rrahmani, who nodded home a corner by Matteo Politano.

Cristiano Biraghi levelled for Fiorentina in the 40th minute from a free-kick, before M'Bala Nzola put the hosts in front two minutes later when he fired a shot into the bottom corner of the net.

Napoli's Khvicha Kvaratskhelia responded with another stunning free-kick early in the second half to rescue a point for his team.

Eighth-placed Fiorentina, on 54 points and with a game in hand, are five points behind Lazio in seventh.

They can still earn a Europa League spot either by leapfrogging the Rome side or by winning the Europa Conference League final in which they face Greece's Olympiakos on May 29.

Ninth-placed Napoli, on 52 points, still have a slim chance of making the Europa Conference League playoffs.

Data Debrief

Fiorentina left-back Biraghi has now scored six goals from direct free-kicks since the start of 2021-22, which is behind only James Ward-Prowse (seven) - now of West Ham and formerly of Southampton - as the most across Europe's top five leagues in that period.

Kvaratskhelia also levelled via a direct free-kick, making this the first Serie A match in which both teams scored via that route since Fiorentina against Lazio in April 2018 (Jordan Veretout and Luis Alberto in that case).

Napoli's Serie A title defence has long since ended, and they must beat Fiorentina on Friday to have any hope of playing in Europe next season.

Napoli strolled to the Scudetto last year, clinching the title with five games to spare and finishing 16 points ahead of runners-up Lazio.

This time around, it was Inter who wrapped up the league with five games remaining, while Napoli sit ninth in the standings, 41 points adrift of the leaders with a Europa Conference League spot their only hope of playing in Europe.

Napoli are without a win in their last five games, though even if they can get back to winning ways, their European hopes would be out of their own hands due to having played a game more than Fiorentina.

Fiorentina have won three of their last five league matches, and won the previous meeting between the sides 3-1, which could prove vital they end the season level on points and the head-to-head record comes into play.

Vincenzo Italiano's side have already qualified for this season's Europa Conference League final, where they face Greek side Olympiacos in Athens. 

The Viola, unbeaten in Europe this season, are aiming to end the league campaign on a high and take that momentum into the final - they are looking to go one better than last year when they lost to West Ham in the final.

Napoli are likely to be without top scorer Victor Osimhen, who is a serious doubt due to a muscular problem. Fiorentina, meanwhile, welcome back Andre Belotti who missed Monday's win over Monza.

Napoli saw their winless run extend to five games after Bologna secured a 2-0 win with two quickfire goals at their lacklustre hosts in Serie A on Saturday.

Forward Dan Ndoye gave Bologna the lead in the ninth minute, heading home from point-blank range, before defender Stefan Posch nodded in to double the advantage three minutes later following a corner.

Napoli should have pulled one back soon after when they were awarded a penalty for Remo Freuler's foul on Victor Osimhen but Bologna goalkeeper Federico Ravaglia kept out Matteo Politano's low shot.

Bologna, at least temporarily, moved up to third on 67 points, leapfrogging Juventus – with 66 – who host relegated Salernitana on Sunday.

Napoli are eighth on 51 points as last season's Scudetto winners continue to struggle to match their heroics from the previous term.

Napoli coach Francesco Calzona is determined to see the Partenopei finish the season on a high despite their European hopes being further hit by Monday's 1-1 draw with struggling Udinese. 

Victor Osimhen nodded home to give Napoli the lead in the 51st minute before Udinese forward Isaac Success bundled in the leveller in stoppage time.

The result – which came on the same ground where Napoli clinched the Scudetto last season – leaves them nine points adrift of Atalanta and Roma, who sit fifth and sixth in Serie A respectively, with just nine to play for.

"Clearly I thought we could do better, without a doubt. Unfortunately that wasn't the case," Calzona told DAZN.

"We have to ask the management about the future of Napoli, it's clear that we have the qualities to do better. 

"It was a disappointing and unfortunate year, but we absolutely must finish this championship on a high note."

Napoli had 50 points halfway through their Scudetto-winning 2022-23 campaign but have just 51 after 35 games this term, with their ambitions now limited to a Europa League spot.

Calzona says European qualification remains crucial as Napoli look ahead to 2024-25, adding: "Naples is a great place, perhaps after a year like this there will be many rumours circulating.

"But it is not a justification, I repeated that there is still a possibility of reaching Europe.

"We have improved a little, but it's not enough. We have to do more to win these games. We have also created, the team continues to have good possession, but at times it is sterile.

"But we have to be more incisive. In the second half we did it but we have to avoid the end of the game where it gets dirty".

Napoli next host fourth-placed Bologna on Saturday before they travel to Fiorentina, who are one point behind them in ninth and still have a game in hand.

Napoli were held to a 1-1 draw at relegation-battling Udinese in Serie A on Monday after a stoppage-time goal by forward Isaac Success cancelled out a Victor Osimhen header.

Osimhen nodded home to give Napoli the lead in the 51st minute after Matteo Politano sent a lofted cross from the right into the middle of the box, and the Nigerian striker headed the ball in off the left post.

The Nigerian thought he doubled their advantage in the 80th minute, but his effort was ruled out for offside, before Success bundled in the leveller in stoppage time, netting from a Thomas Kristensen header.

Napoli moved up to eighth on 51 points from 35 games and are nine points behind both fifth-placed Atalanta and Roma, in sixth.

Data Debrief:

Osimhen is the third Napoli player to score in six matches in a row against a single team in Serie A in the three-points-for-a-win era, after Gonzalo Higuain against Lazio between 2013 and 2016 and Dries Mertens against Bologna between 2016 and 2019.

Despite fighting back to earn a point, Udinese have now failed to win three games under a new manager for the first time since August-September 2010 under Francesco Guidolin.

Daniele De Rossi acknowledged his Roma team may be tired, but he insisted they must not allow themselves to be embarrassed. 

Roma fought back to draw 2-2 with last season's Serie A champions Napoli in a pulsating fixture on Sunday.

Tammy Abraham's late header secured a point for De Rossi's team, who took the lead through Paulo Dybala's penalty before going behind to goals from Matias Olivera and Victor Osimhen.

With Serie A set to have five teams in the Champions League next season, Roma occupy fifth spot with four matches remaining, but sixth-placed Atalanta are just two points behind with a game in hand.

There is also the small matter of a Europa League semi-final against Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen on the cards over the coming weeks, and De Rossi set the stall out.

"We drew, it is not a result to throw away, but it is not the result or the performance that we wanted," Roma coach Daniele De Rossi told Sky Sports Italia.

"At times you can steal the ball off Napoli, but we then gave it back again too many times. Napoli had a lot of chances in the first half, we did better in the second, but we have to do better.

"Look, we are tired, but we cannot start thinking that we’re tired and that means we can be embarrassed in the final few weeks of the season."

Roma host Leverkusen on Thursday before taking on Juventus on May 5, with a crunch clash against Atalanta – who are also into the Europa League semi-finals – set to follow after the away leg against Xabi Alonso's team.

Key to a successful end to the campaign for Roma will be keeping Dybala fit. The Argentine has been involved in the joint-most goals (12) in Serie A since the turn of the year, scoring nine and setting up three, level with Juve's Dusan Vlahovic.

A wasteful Napoli were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Roma in Serie A, with a late Tammy Abraham header securing a point for the visitors.

The visitors took the lead from the penalty spot a minute before the hour mark, with Paulo Dybala converting after Juan Jesus fouled Sardar Amzoun.

However, Napoli equalised six minutes later through Matias Olivera's deflected shot, and completed the turnaround with their own penalty six minutes from time as Victor Osimhen tucked away after Khvicha Kvaratskhelia was felled by Renato Sanches.

The hosts could not hold on, though, and were pegged back with two minutes to go. Substitute Abraham's header from a corner was eventually awarded following a VAR review after he had initially been ruled offside.

Data debrief

Napoli remain eighth in the Serie A table on 50 points, the exact amount they had registered after their opening 19 games of last season.

Though his penalty was not enough to earn Roma victory, Dybala continued his impressive start to 2024, during which he has been involved in the joint-most goals in Serie A with 12 (nine goals, three assists).

Napoli have confirmed club president Aurelio De Laurentiis has spoken to prosecutors as part of an inquiry into the signing of Victor Osimhen.

Italian media has reported De Laurentiis is under investigation for alleged false accounting.

Prosecutors reportedly allege that the market value of four players Napoli sold to Lille as part of a deal to buy Nigeria striker Osimhen in September 2020 were inflated to help the Italian club balance their books.

A Napoli statement on Wednesday said: “Upon his request, Aurelio De Laurentiis was heard today at the prosecutor’s office in Rome as part of the ongoing inquiry into the purchase of Victor Osimhen.”

According to Italian media, Napoli paid Lille around £65.5milion for Osimhen, with the total value of the four outgoing players – Ciro Palmieri, Orestis Karnezis, Luigi Liguori and Claudio Manzi – given as around £17.15m.

Osimhen was instrumental in Napoli winning the Serie A title last season for the first time in 33 years, finishing as top scorer with 26 goals.

The 25-year-old signed a new contract in December, but it contains a reported £100m release clause and he has bene linked with a summer move away from the club.

Napoli have urged their fans to make themselves heard in the fight against racism during Saturday’s home game against Atalanta.

The Serie A club said earlier in the week that it was “astonishing” that Italy defender Francesco Acerbi was not sanctioned over allegations of racism against their player Juan Jesus.

Inter Milan’s Acerbi was accused of racism towards Jesus in the closing stages of a 1-1 draw earlier this month, with the Napoli defender briefly pausing the match to report the matter to the referee.

But Acerbi will face no further action after Jesus’ claims were dismissed by a Serie A sports judge due to a lack of evidence.

On Friday, Napoli wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “We believe in a world where equality and respect are not just empty illusions but concrete and universally recognised principles.

“For this to happen, we mustn’t stay silent. Tomorrow is the right chance to raise our voices and say NO to racism.”

Acerbi protested his innocence, but agreed to withdraw from the national squad for this week’s games against Venezuela and Ecuador after discussing the matter with manager Luciano Spalletti.

Serie A sports judge Gerardo Mastrandrea considered the case against Acerbi and on Tuesday concluded: “In this case the minimum level of reasonable certainty regarding the discriminatory content of the offence committed is not reached.”

Napoli issued a statement in response saying they found the verdict “astonishing”, adding: “Napoli will no longer take part in anti-racism and anti-discrimination initiatives run by football institutions that are merely symbolic.

“But we will continue to organise them ourselves, as we have always done, with renewed conviction and determination.”

Napoli defender Juan Jesus says it is “difficult to comprehend” the decision not to punish Inter Milan’s Francesco Acerbi over allegations of racism.

Brazilian Jesus accused Italy international Acerbi of an abusive comment relating to skin colour during a 1-1 draw between their clubs earlier this month.

But the case was dismissed by a Serie A sports judge on Tuesday due to a lack of evidence.

Jesus feels “very bitter” about the verdict and believes his complaint may have been treated differently if he had not responded “as a gentleman”.

“I have read several times and with great disappointment the decision of the sports judge, who felt there was no evidence that I was the victim of a racist,” said the 32-year-old in a lengthy statement released with his legal representatives.

“While respecting the decision, it is one I find difficult to comprehend and it leaves me feeling very bitter.

“Quite honestly I am crestfallen by such a serious incident in which my only mistake was that I dealt with it ‘as a gentleman’, deciding not to interrupt an important game, with all the inconvenience that would have caused the spectators watching the match.

“I did so believing that such an attitude would have been respected, and perhaps taken as an example.

“Following this decision, I imagine that anyone else finding themselves in a similar situation to mine will act in a very different manner, in order to protect themselves and to curb the disgrace of racism, which, sadly, we are struggling to rid ourselves of.”

According to Jesus, Acerbi apologised on the pitch before changing his version of events the following day.

The 36-year-old Inter player publicly protested his innocence but agreed to withdraw from Italy’s squad for games against Venezuela and Ecuador after discussing the matter with national team manager Luciano Spalletti.

Judge Gerardo Mastrandrea suggested Acerbi’s comments may have been offensive but could not determine whether they were of a racist nature.

Jesus fears the episode could “set a serious precedent for justifying certain behaviour after the event” but expressed hope it may help the football world reflect on the “serious and urgent” issue of racism.

“I really do not understand how ‘go away negro, you’re just a negro’ can be considered to be certainly offensive but not discriminatory,” continued Jesus’ statement.

“I do not understand all the commotion that evening if it really was ‘just an insult’, for which Acerbi himself felt the need to apologise, the referee decided to notify VAR, the match was suspended for over a minute and his team-mates hurried to speak to me.

“I cannot fathom why Acerbi only started to change his version of the events the following day while with the national team, instead of denying it immediately after the match, when it actually happened.

“I didn’t expect it to end like this. I fear – and I hope I am wrong – that this could set a serious precedent for justifying certain behaviour after the event.

“I sincerely hope that this sad matter can help the world of football to reflect on an issue that is both serious and urgent.”

Napoli say they find it “astonishing” that Italy defender Francesco Acerbi was not sanctioned over allegations of racism against their player Juan Jesus.

Inter Milan’s Acerbi was implicated by his opponent in the closing stages of a 1-1 draw earlier this month, with Jesus briefly pausing the match to report the matter to the referee.

But Acerbi will face no further action after defender Jesus’ claims were dismissed by a Serie A sports judge due to a lack of evidence.

In a statement, Napoli said: “The principle of the greatest likelihood of an event, which exists in sports justice and which appears clear from the dynamics of the incident and the apology offered on the pitch, simply vanishes in this judgement.

“We find it astonishing.

“If what happened on the pitch ‘is certainly compatible with the expression of offensive comments (…) by the Inter player, who does not deny that they were offensive and threatening,’ then why was Acerbi not sanctioned in any way?

“If, as the judgement itself reads, ‘there was certainly proof of an insult,’ why did the sports judge decide to take no action to punish the responsible party?

“We find that even more astonishing.

“Napoli will no longer take part in anti-racism and anti-discrimination initiatives run by football institutions that are merely symbolic, but we will continue to organise them ourselves, as we have always done, with renewed conviction and determination.”

Acerbi protested his innocence but agreed to withdraw from the national squad for this week’s games against Venezuela and Ecuador after discussing the matter with manager Luciano Spalletti.

Serie A sports judge Gerardo Mastrandrea considered the case against Acerbi, speaking to both men, others present on the pitch and also consulting recordings of the incident, but found insufficient proof to support Jesus’ own testimony.

Acerbi, who faced potentially serious sanctions had he been found guilty, has been cleared to turn out again for Inter when their league schedule resumes on April 1.

Mastrandrea’s ruling concluded: “In this case the minimum level of reasonable certainty regarding the discriminatory content of the offence committed is not reached.

“Without calling into question the good faith of the Napoli player, it appears to have been perceived only by ‘offended’ footballer without the support of any external evidence, be it audio, video or even testimonial.

“Discriminatory conduct, due to its intrinsic severity and intolerability, especially when it refers to the person’s race, skin colour or religion, must be sanctioned with the utmost severity in accordance with the Code of Sports Justice and the rules international sporting events.

“But it is nevertheless necessary that the imposition of such burdensome sanctions is correspondingly assisted by a minimum amount of evidence, or at least by serious, precise and consistent evidence in order to achieve reasonable certainty.”

Italy defender Francesco Acerbi will face no further action over allegations of racism against Napoli’s Juan Jesus, whose claims have been dismissed due to a lack of evidence.

The Inter Milan player was implicated by his opponent in the closing stages of a 1-1 draw earlier this month, with Jesus briefly pausing the match to report the matter to the referee.

Acerbi protested his innocence but agreed to withdraw from the national squad for this week’s games against Venezuela and Ecuador after discussing the matter with manager Luciano Spalletti.

Serie A sports judge Gerardo Mastrandrea considered the case against Acerbi, speaking to both men, others present on the pitch and also consulting recordings of the incident, but found insufficient proof to support Jesus’ own testimony.

Had he been found guilty, Acerbi faced potentially serious sanctions that could have included a lengthy ban and thrown his hopes of featuring in this summer’s European Championships into doubt. Instead, he has been cleared to turn out again for Inter when their league schedule resumes on April 1.

Mastrandrea’s ruling concluded: “In this case the minimum level of reasonable certainty regarding the discriminatory content of the offence committed is not reached.

“Without calling into question the good faith of the Napoli player, it appears to have been perceived only by ‘offended’ footballer without the support of any external evidence, be it audio, video or even testimonial.

“Discriminatory conduct, due to its intrinsic severity and intolerability, especially when it refers to the person’s race, skin colour or religion, must be sanctioned with the utmost severity in accordance with the Code of Sports Justice and the rules international sporting events.

“But it is nevertheless necessary that the imposition of such burdensome sanctions is correspondingly assisted by a minimum amount of evidence, or at least by serious, precise and consistent evidence in order to achieve reasonable certainty.”

Runaway Serie A leaders Inter Milan were held to a 1-1 draw by reigning champions Napoli at the San Siro.

It is the first time Simone Inzaghi’s side have dropped points in 2024 as Juan Jesus’ late goal against his former club cancelled out Matteo Darmian’s opener to secure a point for Napoli.

It has been a week to forget for Inter, who were knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid in midweek, during what is a fine domestic league campaign.

Marcus Thuram had the first clear-cut chance of the game but Jesus was on hand to make the block.

Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret then somehow kept the score level with a quick-fire double save, pushing away a Darmian header before clambering up and keeping out Lautaro Martinez on the rebound.

Inter were not at their fluent best and Hamed Traore could have punished them but headed wide as the visitors looked to take a half-time lead.

Instead, they were caught out just moments later as Darmian tucked home from inside the box for his second goal of the campaign.

After the break, Martinez stung the palms of Meret early in the second half before fluffing his lines with another opportunity shortly afterwards.

Napoli, though, with leading goalscorer Victor Osimhen watching on from the substitutes’ bench, started to enjoy more of the ball and push for an equaliser.

Despite having more possession, the champions – who sit seventh in the table following a dismal defence of their title – struggled to create chances.

That was until they were gifted a corner which Matteo Politano sent into the middle and Inter’s Alessandro Bastoni could only flick into the direction of Jesus, unmarked at the back post to turn home.

Neither side could muster a winning goal as Inter’s lead at the top of the table now sits at 14 points, with rivals AC Milan the closest of the challenging pack.

The point does little to help Napoli’s prospects of qualifying for the Champions League as they still have to make up a nine-point gap to the top four.

Inter Milan and Napoli will both look to put Champions League disappointment behind them when they meet in Serie A on Sunday.

Napoli exited the competition in the last 16 on Tuesday, beaten 4-2 on aggregate by Barcelona, and a day later Inter lost out to Atletico Madrid on penalties following a 2-2 draw.

The result was a bitter pill to swallow for the runaway Serie A leaders, who were on a run of 13 consecutive victories in all competitions and had hoped to go one better than last season, when they were beaten in the Champions League final by Manchester City.

Inter went two up in the tie but Atletico fought back to level through Memphis Depay’s goal late in normal time and, after missed chances for Simone Inzaghi’s side in extra-time, they missed three of their five penalties, with Lautaro Martinez sending the final effort high over the bar.

Inter seem certain to lift silverware this season domestically, going into the weekend 16 points clear of nearest rivals AC Milan.

And Inzaghi said on the club website: “The lads have to be proud of what they’ve done. It’s normal to be disappointed, because it’s a shame when it comes down to penalties.

“Now we’ve got 10 Serie A matches we need to play well to try to reach that crucial goal of ours. We’ve got to try and recover physically and mentally to give it our best shot against the reigning champions. We’ll try and do our best.”

Napoli’s title defence has been distinctly underwhelming and they are sweating on the fitness of striker Victor Osimhen, who missed training for two days this week with a muscle problem.

They have not given up hope of forcing their way into the European places, with victory over Juventus earlier this month a much-needed boost, although they were then held at home by Torino.

Napoli are on their third manager of the season in Francesco Calzona, who was appointed until the end of the campaign last month and also holds the position of Slovakia coach.

He insisted he is not concerned about his future, saying on Sky Sports Italia: “Let’s think about the championship, there are many games and we have to cradle the dream of catching up with the teams that are ahead of us.

“It’s difficult, but mathematics doesn’t condemn us. As for me, my future is the last thing on my mind. The boys are working hard and giving me a lot, I think we’ve made a small step forward.”

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