From the 1-0 at the latest after a good hour, the euphoria knew no bounds. In the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona and around the stadium blue smoke was billowing, people were dancing and singing. Not just in the stands.
All of Naples seemed to be on its feet. With the home win against outsiders US Salernitana, the first championship since the 1989/1990 season would have been perfect. But while players and fans were already preparing for the big celebration in the southern Italian city following Mathias Oliveira’s goal in the 62nd minute, Salernitana’s Boulaye Dia played the party crasher. The attacker shocked Napoli 1-1 after a solo run in the 84th minute. The premature win of the Italian soccer championship and the firmly planned title party in the city were thus screwed up.
Everything was set for a once-in-a-lifetime football party at the foot of Mount Vesuvius after pursuers Lazio lost 3-1 at Inter Milan early on Sunday afternoon, delivering the assist they had been hoping for.
Thousands of fans have already gathered in the city in various places, with blue-white smoke from Bengal fires rising everywhere. Practically all the houses of this chaotic and crazy city were decorated with flags and banners.
Up to a million fans including tourists were expected in the city, for safety reasons large parts of the center were closed to traffic. Around 2,500 police and law enforcement officers were on duty to prevent riots and incidents.
Since the era of Diego Maradona and the two championship titles in 1987 and 1990, Napoli have been waiting for their third Serie A win – now the club and the Tifosi have to wait a few more days.
With six games to go, Napoli are 18 points clear of Lazio and 20 over Juventus, who travel to Bologna on Sunday night. In the away game at Udinese Calcio next Thursday, Napoli can make amends for the little blunder – if the pursuers don’t make a mistake beforehand and make the SSC champions in front of the TV set.