Supercoppa Italiana Preview: Serie A Heavyweights to Battle in Riyadh

A carbon copy of the Supercopa de Espana, the Supercoppa Italiana has changed its long-standing format to gain more traction. The first-ever edition featuring four teams has taken the name ‘EA Sports FC Supercup’ for sponsorship reasons.

Speaking of mirroring La Liga’s effort to attract more interest in their Super Cup event, Serie A has abandoned a long-term tradition of a one-off match between two clubs. League officials have followed their Spanish counterparts’ path, taking the competition outside the Italian borders. 

In all fairness, it’s become a common practice in recent years. Defending champions Inter thumped arch-rivals Milan 3-0 in the last showpiece held in Saudi Arabia. Riyadh was the host city then and will be again, yet the venue will be different. 

KSU Stadium, which a few days ago hosted the Supercopa de Espana title decider between Barcelona and Real Madrid, will stage both semi-final fixtures and the grand final. The tournament commences on January 18 with the first semi-final tie and closes out on January 22.

Meet Supercoppa Italiana Contenders

Embroiled in the maiden edition of a four-team format, Inter, Napoli, Lazio, and Fiorentina will bid to seize the prize. As the reigning Supercoppa Italiana holders and runaway Serie A leaders, Simone Inzaghi’s men are odds-on favorites to lift the trophy for the eighth time. 

With record-time winners Juventus and second-joint most-successful Milan out of the picture, this is a golden opportunity for Inter to close the gap on Bianconeri and leave their fellow San Siro tenants in their wake. However, they’ll have to overcome five-time conquerers Lazio to set up a title-deciding contest. 

In the other semi-final, defending Serie A champions Napoli will be out to salvage some pride amidst a humiliating league campaign against top-four hopefuls Fiorentina. For the former, this is a chance to alleviate some pressure on manager Walter Mazzarri. Meanwhile, the Tuscan outfit could climb to the throne for only the second time in the club’s history.

Without further ado, let’s preview both semi-finals. 

Napoli vs Fiorentina


Napoli’s first Supercoppa Italiana appearance since 2020 comes off the back of their first Scudetto in 30 years. Led by Luciano Spalletti, the Partenopei steamrolled to a long-overdue Serie A title in 2022/23. Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia emerged as poster boys as the city celebrated this long-awaited success for months. 

But optimism is now a rare commodity in Naples. Aurelio De Laurentiis’ decision to sack underperforming Rudi Garcia and bring Mazzarri back to the flock has been an unmitigated disaster. With 20 points separating Napoli from pacesetters Inter, their hopes of defending the crown are dead in the water midway through the 2023/24 campaign.

That’s not to mention top-flight newcomers Frosinone humbled Mazzarri’s troops 4-0 in the Coppa Italia in December 2023. As the pressure intensifies on the veteran coach, Napoli might relish this voyage, knowing their last Supercoppa Italiana triumph dates back to 2014, when Qatar hosted the final. 

Let’s not dwell on the past. Mazzarri has more pressing matters to address. His men head into the tournament in the midst of a dreadful run of form, winning just three of their last ten competitive outings (D1, L6). If it’s any consolation, Napoli fought back to beat rock-bottom Salernitana 2-1 in their most recent Serie A assignment. 

Team News

Victor Osimhen’s absence due to his international duty with Nigeria is a potentially fatal blow to Napoli’s lofty ambitions. But he’s not the only player unable to feature in the semi-final. Alex Meret, Natan, and Mathias Olivera are in the treatment room. 


Fiorentina last had a chance to taste Supercoppa Italiana glory in 2001, only to fall to a 3-0 defeat to Roma. The club’s only victory in this competition was in 1996 when legendary Gabriel Omar Batistuta netted a match-winning double to single-handedly beat Milan 2-1

You probably wonder what Fiorentina did to merit this privilege. Vincenzo Italiano’s side spurned an early lead in a 2-1 loss to Inter in last season’s Coppa Italia final. As the beaten finalists, they’ve qualified for this highly anticipated event. 

Unlike their semi-final opposition, La Viola come into the Supercoppa Italiana in high spirits. Except for a gut-wrenching 1-0 defeat at the hands of Sassuolo, Italiano’s high-flyers have gone unbeaten in ten of their last 11 games across all competitions (W7, D3). 

Despite a goal-glutted 2-2 draw against Udinese in the build-up to this encounter, Fiorentina can draw confidence from dispatching Bologna from the Coppa Italia quarter-finals on penalties. It was a confirmation of their ability to thrive under the pressure of elimination. 

Team News

Italiano has been unable to select long-term absentees Dodo and Gaetano Castrovilli for this trip. But Nicolas Gonzalez’s muscular injury is a far worse issue for the highly-rated Fiorentina boss. 

Inter vs Lazio 

Back-to-back Supercoppa Italiana champions Inter are on the brink of making history. No Serie A side has ever won the title three times in a row, presenting Inzaghi’s side with a unique opportunity to cap off their scintillating run of form in style. 

Fresh off a 5-1 demolition of Monza last Saturday, Inter will be looking to extend a two-match winning streak against Lazio. Both previous wins yielded a two-goal margin, including a 2-0 league victory at the Stadio Olimpico in mid-December. 

As Serie A’s most prolific frontline, Inter have a reputation to uphold, having bagged a comfortable competition-high 49 goals this season. It means Inzaghi, who’s bidding to win the trophy as a manager for the fifth time, is in a prime position to upset his former employers again. 

Inter’s astounding run of 19 unbeaten matches in their last 20 (W14, D4) only strengthens their status as pre-match favorites. However, they can’t take anything for granted after already relinquishing a two-year grip on the Coppa Italia in December, suffering a 1-0 extra-time loss to Bologna in the quarter-finals.

Team News

Barring injury-prone Juan Cuadrado, the remainder of Inter’s star-studded squad has boarded the plane to Riyadh. All eyes will be on the leading Serie A goalscorer, Lautaro Martinez, who can’t stop scoring against domestic rivals. 


What did Lazio do to book their Supercoppa Italiana tickets? Maurizio Sarri’s side defied the odds to seal an unlikely runner-up finish in Serie A last season, their best position in the final standings since hoisting the Scudetto in 1999/2000. 

The timing of the tournament couldn’t be more delicate. Four straight Serie A wins have elevated Lazio to within a single point of fourth-placed Fiorentina. On top of that, the Biancocelesti earned bragging rights in the capital with a morale-boosting 1-0 triumph against Roma in their Coppa Italia quarter-final tie last week.

Seemingly unhappy with the interruption of his side’s momentum in Serie A, Sarri described the new format as ‘anything but sport, we just take the money and run.’ But it’s not like he’ll lack motivation. Indeed, the last time he tried to get his hands on the Supercoppa Italiana title in 2019 while at the helm of Juventus, Lazio stopped him in his tracks. 

Ominously, Inter manager Inzaghi was on the opposite bench. It could be an added incentive for Sarri to inspire Lazio to their sixth Supercoppa Italiana success. 

Team News

Summer arrival Taty Castellanos is the only high-profile omission due to injury. The Argentine would’ve probably stayed on the bench even if he was fit, with Sarri likely to stick with his talismanic striker Ciro Immobile to lead the line in this revenge-poised fixture. 

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