For the second week in a row, attention is turning to the Al-Awal Park stadium of the Saudi Al-Nassr Club, where the Italian Super Cup football competition is being held in its new form, with the participation of Napoli, the league champion, Lazio, the runner-up, Inter, the cup champion, and Fiorentina, the runner-up.
The Italian International League followed in the footsteps of its Spanish counterpart, which amended the Super Cup competition as of 2020 and expanded participation in it to include four teams instead of just the league and cup champions. Its latest edition took place last week and Real Madrid was crowned champion with a major victory over its traditional rival Barcelona 4-1 in final match.
The Italian League announced on March 13 that Saudi Arabia will be the stage for the Super Cup during four of the next six seasons, with the participation of four clubs instead of the league and cup champions, starting in 2024.
Saudi Arabia has previously hosted the Italian Super Cup three times since 2018, the last of which was last January when Inter beat its neighbor Milan 3-0.
– Inter and Lazio summit – Inter Milan, the strong candidate to retain the title, begins its campaign against Lazio, the former team of its coach Simone Inzaghi, in a fiery summit on Friday.
It will be the second match between the two teams in a month, as the first was last December 17 in the sixteenth stage, and Inter won it with a clean score at the Olympic Stadium in the capital.
But Lazio regained its balance immediately afterward and achieved five consecutive victories in five matches in various competitions, most notably its victory in the cup quarter-final derby against its neighbor Roma 1-0 last Wednesday. The loss was one of the reasons that led to the dismissal of Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho on Tuesday and the appointment of Daniele De Rossi in his place. .
Inter is doing well this season, as it has only lost twice in various competitions, which were to its guest, Sassuolo, 1-2, in the league on September 27, and to Bologna, with the same score, in the eighth-final of the cup competition, when it was stripped of its title.
Inter leads the league standings with 51 points and has the strongest lines of defense (conceding only 10 goals) and attack (scoring 49 goals), two points ahead of its arch-rival Juventus, and has reached the eighth final of the Champions League competition, where it will face Atletico Madrid of Spain.
Inter is seeking to break the partnership of second place among the clubs with the most titles in the competition, which it shares with its neighbor Milan (7 each), and reduce the difference to one title over traditional rival Juventus, the leaders, while Lazio occupies fourth place with five titles.
Inter is counting on its striking attacking force, led by the duo of Argentine captain Lautaro Martinez and Frenchman Marcus Thuram, about whom coach Inzaghi said in a press conference on the eve of the last match in the league (5-1 against Montsa, where Martinez scored a brace): “Lautaro and Thuram maintain a very high rhythm: how do they work? How they were in the group, and the important goals they scored.”
Martinez tops the league’s top scorers with 18 goals, eight goals ahead of his closest competitor, Milan’s veteran French international striker Olivier Giroud, while Thuram scored eight goals, and Turkish midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu added nine goals.
On the other hand, Lazio, which in turn reached the eighth final of the prestigious continental competition, where it was drawn against the German giant Bayern Munich, will try to continue its recent uprising, but its coach Maurizio Sarri expressed his anger about holding the Super Cup with his new system.
He said in a press conference on the eve of the confrontation with Lecce last weekend (1-0): “The issue is not related to sports. We take the money and run away. We beg for money all over the world. With all the problems of the calendar, we are organizing the Super Cup with the participation of four clubs,” adding: “If modern football develops like this, then I’m glad I’m getting older.”
– Napoli to confirm its awakening – In the first semi-final match scheduled for Thursday, Napoli, the league champion, will confirm its awakening when it meets Fiorentina, the previous cup runner-up.
Napoli regained its victorious tone after three defeats, including a humiliating loss to its guest, Frosinone, 4-0, in the eighth-final of the cup competition, and tied in its last four matches when it narrowly defeated its guest, Salernitana, who finished last, 2-1, in stoppage time on Saturday.
Napoli aspires to regain its prestige in this crucial period of the season, as it will face three summit matches in the next 30 days, where it will face its hosts Lazio and Milan in the league and its Spanish guest Barcelona in the 16th final of the Champions League competition.
The southern team almost lost its chances of defending the league title, which it won last season for the first time in 33 years, as it occupies eighth place, 20 points behind leaders Inter.
Napoli’s task will not be easy against Fiorentina, which is fourth in the league and has reached the semi-finals of the local cup competition.
The final match will be held next Monday.
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