It’s a battle at the bottom in Serie A’s 24th round this weekend as Salernitana hosts Empoli at Stadio Arechi on Friday.
Filippo Inzaghi’s team managed to draw with Torino, halting their poor start to 2024, but they need a win in this crucial match against Empoli, who haven’t lost in their last three games.
Salernitana ended 2023 on a high note with a draw against AC Milan and a win over Hellas Verona, raising hopes for better results in the New Year.
However, Inzaghi’s squad couldn’t capitalize on that momentum, facing five straight losses across all competitions before earning a point at Torino in gameweek 23.
Despite a defensive approach in Turin that led to a goalless draw, the upcoming match against Empoli is critical for Salernitana’s survival chances, as Empoli is five points ahead.
A win would narrow the gap to three points from the second-last position and might also reach Cagliari, who are currently five points ahead in 18th place.
For Salernitana, achieving a second home win since their impressive victory over Lazio in late November 2023 is essential.
Empoli, on the other hand, aims to maintain their distance from Salernitana and focus on surpassing the teams above them, adding motivation for their visit on Friday.
Davide Nicola faces his former team, looking to prove a point against the club that fired and rehired him within days in January 2023 before letting him go again a month later.
Nicola is respected in Italian football for his ability to save teams from relegation, including Crotone in 2016-17 and remarkable turnarounds with Torino and Salernitana in subsequent seasons.
Since taking over Empoli on January 15, Nicola has led the team to an undefeated streak, securing five points from three games, including a draw against Juventus.
Despite being Empoli’s third manager this season, Nicola’s positive impact gives the team hope of moving out of the relegation zone if other results go their way.
Salernitana Serie A form: W L L L L D
Salernitana form (all competitions): L L L L L D
Empoli Serie A form: D L L W D D
Salernitana’s Federico Fazio and Norbert Gyomber are close to returning from injuries.
The availability of Triantafyllos Pasalidis is uncertain after an early exit in the last game, and Lorenzo Pirola might also miss the match. However, Boulaye Dia is fit for selection after rejoining the squad in Turin.
Empoli will be without Gabriele Guarino, Francesco Caputo, Tyronne Ebuehi, and Simone Bastoni due to injuries. Sebastian Walukiewicz is suspended after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season.
Salernitana possible starting lineup:
Pierozzi, Boateng, Pasalidis;
Zanioli, Maggiore, Basic, Bradaric;
Empoli possible starting lineup:
Bereszynski, Ismajli, Luperto;
Gyasi, Grassi, Maleh, Cacace;
Prediction: Salernitana 1-1 Empoli
Empoli is likely to extend their unbeaten streak under Nicola in Salerno, potentially leaving the hosts disappointed with a draw that misses a chance to move closer to escaping the relegation zone.