Napoli are on the cusp of their third Serie A title – and the celebrations will be like nothing you have ever seen
Napoli's brilliant season could see them secure the Scudetto this weekend, but fans have already begun their celebrations
Everyone knows about the volcano just outside Naples. Vesuvius looms over the landscape, and the preserved remains of Pompeii lie just a short train ride from city.
A much bigger supervolcano lies just to the west of the city, with enough potential to change the shape of Italy when it finally blows. It is this volcano that lends its name to the train station that sits opposite Napoli’s stadium: Campi Flegrei.
When Napoli finally confirm their Serie A title this season – possibly as early as this weekend – the celebrations in southern Italy will make a Campi Flegrei explosion look pitiful in comparison.
The Ciucciarelli fans are their own geological sensation. On multiple occasions in recent years, they have triggered earthquake tremors in the surrounding area – including when they beat Juventus with a late goal in 2018, and once in 2016 just by singing along to the Champions League anthem.
And ask any Napoli fan, and they will be clear that it’s a case of “when”, not “if” they clinch the Scudetto.
For a side that has not won the league since 1990, back when Diego Maradona was gracing the San Paolo turf, the confidence is supreme.
FourFourTwo has rarely, if ever, visited a place so ebullient about its football team. The bunting has been out on every streets for weeks, not just in the city, but in the whole region. Follow the coast around the bay of Naples and you will go through Ercolano, Castellammare and Sorrento, all decked out in pale blue and white. Get on the boat to the island of Capri and the story is the same. Even choose to visit the beach, and you'll find messages of Neopolitan dominance projected onto the sand.
It’s not just bunting, either. Murals, flags and banners abound, with neighbourhoods working together to suspend the latter from their balconies across the streets below. Many simply declare Napoli the “campione d’Italia”, while the sight of the Italian shield – the Scudetto itself – emblazoned with the number three, signifying their forthcoming third league title, is a common one.
“Sorry for the delay… we’ll start again from three”, reads one banner, while another just down the road has a pop at Juventus’ now ex chairman Andrea Agnelli: “Better three scudetti with lions, than 36 with lambs”. ‘Agnelli’ is Italian for ‘lambs’, and the word is coloured alternating black-and-white, just to make the pun clear.
Street stalls tell much the same story. Scarves, T-shirts, socks, hats – even protective masks, like those worn by star forward Victor Osimhen – all declare Napoli Serie A champions 2022/23.
Incredibly, there’s still seven games left of the season. Imagine if Arsenal fans had taken this approach with their own table-topping.
The team has had their own semi-wobble, too. Having lost just twice all season, they began April with a demoralising 4-0 loss to Milan, followed two weeks later by a drab 0-0 home draw with relegation-threatened Verona – itself sandwiched between a two-legged Champions League defeat to Milan again.
For their supporters, Europe was a secondary concern, though. “The Champions League would be nice,” one fan told FFT, “but the Scudetto is more important.”
Last week’s win over Juventus, who have moved back up to third after a 15-point deduction was overturned, firmly ended any well-hidden concerns among the fanbase.
With Luciano Spalletti’s side 17 points clear, they could have their name on the trophy by Sunday night. If Lazio fail to beat Inter Milan in Sunday’s early kick-off, Napoli will just need to beat 14th-place Salernitana at their home ground, now named after the late Diego Armando Maradona, to secure the title.
Maradona was treated like a demi-god during his time in Italy, as he inspired the club to their greatest period of succes, winning their only two previous Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup. His deification has not eased with time, and the passion he roused is bubbling once more.
If Lazio beat Inter this weekend, Napoli will have another opportunity in midweek with a Thursday trip to Udinese.
It may be the last hurrah for this side, as big European clubs begin to circle around talismanic stars Victor Osimhen, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Kim Min-jae.
But when – not if – Napoli win Serie A this season, you’ll know about it. The eruption will be immense.
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Conor Pope is the Online Editor of FourFourTwo, overseeing all digital content, and joined the team in February 2019. He plays football regularly, both on grass and artificial surfaces, and has a large, discerning and ever-growing collection of football shirts from around the world.
He supports Blackburn Rovers and holds a season ticket with south London non-league side Dulwich Hamlet. His main football passions include Tugay, the San Siro and only using a winter ball when it snows.
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