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All Eyes on Napoli
This spring could be the best ever season in Naples
Naples is having a moment. An exciting moment.
If you follow Italian football/soccer as I do, then you are well aware of how large Napoli now looms in the imagination, how the team—led by the dynamic duo Victor Osimhenand Khvicha Kvaratskhelia—has sparked excitement in the city that hasn’t won a championship since the 1989/90 season when Diego Maradona was on the squad.
SSC Napoli, now playing in Stadio Diego Maradona, is on track to win this year’s scudetto as the team is currently 19 points aheadin the Serie A title race. According to Corriere dello Sport, Napoli needs only five more wins before their players can lift the trophy.
But nobody wants to talk openly about it. Nobody wants to jinx it. Only smiles, knowing glances and discussions of specific match details are allowed. That, and donations. On many streets of downtown Naples, in the Forcella and Quartieri Spagnoli neighborhoods, residents have placed stalls with scarves and Napoli paraphernalia that hide a piggy bank. Everyone gives what they can: €5, €10, €20. “Mount Vesuvius is going to explode, my friend. You can’t imagine what it’s going to be like,” says Andrea, as he sits in a plastic chair outside a coffee shop in Forcella. —Why Napoli is close to winning a Serie A title, 33 years after Maradona’s squad managed the feat
Not only are they cruising to a championship in Serie A, but Napoli—along with AC Milan and Inter Milan—are now in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals. Three Serie A squads have not been in the final eight of the UCL since 2005-06.
Napoli will play AC Milan in a two-leg competition for a spot in the Champions League semis on April 12th (at San Siro) and on April 18th in Naples. (Find ticket links at the end of this post.)
Coincidentally, these same two squads will play one another on April 2nd at the Maradona. Should Osimhen, Kvara—and, let’s not forget some of the other contributors like Elmas and Simeone—win that match plus the next four, they could be winning the league by April 29th at home in a derby against Salernitana (that is, if I am reading the calendar correctly).
English clubs are already—predictably—salivating over Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia. That means that Napoli has proven to be a contender which means that—who knows?—Napoli could even top the better-known European clubs.
All of this is to say that spring 2023 could be the best time to visit Naples EVER.
Have you ever found yourself in a city where its beloved sports team has just won its biggest championship? Was it fun? I bet!
Now, imagine that fun multiplied as you dance in the streets and alleys of Naples after a Scudetto win or even a Champions League win. I’m not saying it couldn’t get dicey!But that’s kind of what’s fun about Naples—it’s a city on the cusp of everything.
Some Naples/Napoli Links:
Flights to Naples [Expedia]
Deep Discounts and Mistake Fares to Italy [Going.com, formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights]
12 Things to Do in Naples [Context Travel]
Napoli gear [SSC Napoli official online store]
More useful links on the Italofile Linktr.ee
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Dominance of Victor Osimhen taking Napoli to new heights, World Soccer Talk
This lead would be much narrower had Juventus not been penalized 15 points for “financial irregularities and false accounting in relation to historic transfer dealings – the exchange of players between clubs.” Did Juventus do it? Yes. Does everyone else do it? Also yes. Gosh, I love the beautiful game but I hate the slimy financial mess of it behind the scenes.
Obviously, if I were a true Napoli fan, I would not dare write these words. I’m not particularly superstitious. But if you are, you can ward off the curse with a cornicello. :-)
“They are a team,” explains Thierry Henry when talking about Napoli’s successful run this year. Should Napoli be considered the favorite to win the Champions League this season? video from CBS Sports Golazo on Paramount+
Speaking of England and Italy, the two countries will play one another on March 23 in, you guessed it, Naples. This will be the first UEFA EURO 2024 qualifier since Italy beat England to win the 2020 (2021) EURO.
As of this writing (the day before the match), tickets are still available for Italy fans via VivaTicket. Please note: “Away fans are allowed to purchase tickets only for the away sector via the English Football Federation (The FA). In case an away supporter purchases a ticket not in the away sector, the organizers reserve the right to void the ticket (and reimburse it) or to change the seat also according to the public security authorities’ decisions.”