What a time to be alive if you’re of a southern Italian disposition. While Napoli have been winning plaudits for playing arguably the most attractive football in Europe, Benevento are enjoying their first-ever season as a Serie A team. Despite there being a complete contrast in how both sides have started the campaign, Sunday’s clash at the San Paolo will never be forgotten, regardless of the result.
Benevento may be the only top-flight club yet to pick up a point after the opening three games, but their fans won’t be too concerned. Indeed, the Stregoni are among those who have conceded the least number of goals to date and only lost their last two games due to a VAR decision costing them against Bologna and last-gasp Torino winner. Napoli, on the other hand, are one of three to still have a 100 percent record in the League. You can bet on a winner using the bet365 bonus code.
You’d have to go back to 2004-05 when these sides last met competitively. Napoli had just been demoted to the third tier of Italian football after they were declared bankrupt, whereas Benevento were playing Serie C1 football for the seventh-straight season. Nonetheless, the Azzurri won 2-0 home and away, although they would not leave the division until the following campaign.
The San Paolo is expected to be only 46,000 full out of a possible 60,240 on Sunday, and Benevento been allocated just 1,100 tickets due to safety reasons. The decision was out of the Partenopei’s hands, with local police wary of tempers fraying between both sets of supporters, but this is one of the friendlier derbies in Italian football.
“There were fireworks in Naples when we earned promotion into Serie A, so I assume there is a good feeling between the sets of fans. I’d like to see that not wiped out by a simple football match…” noted Giallorossi President Oreste Vigorito.
“Let nobody hold it against me, but I will admit that stopping Napoli would be very satisfying. It’d be like opening a bottle of champagne rather than a simple spumante.”
Napoli fans will forever be grateful to current Benevento Coach Marco Baroni too, as he scored the goal against Lazio that secured the second Scudetto on April 29, 1990. His hero status is unlikely to be affected even if Benevento should cause an upset at the San Paolo.
Remarkable reports suggest Benevento boss Baroni could be sacked if he doesn’t pull a shock result out of the hat. The Coach surely deserves a longer run after leading the side to Serie A for the first time in their history, but that is the cut-throat nature of the top tier in Italy, even if the likes of Sassuolo and Crotone have proved that loyalty is the best policy in recent years.
As for Napoli, they will be hoping to put their midweek defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League behind them. However, Maurizio Sarri’s side are untested in derby scenarios and would have preferred to bounce back in a more low-key affair. Benevento may be huge underdogs going into the match, but if any team are capable of witchcraft and wizardry, it’s them.