Panoramic pic of soccer stadium in Naples Italy Napoli’s stadium was renamed after Diego Maradona’s death in 2020. (Image: Gaetano Capaldo, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Let Groundhopper Soccer Guides introduce you to Napoli of Italy’s Serie A, who have drawn Barcelona in a very interesting Europa League tie.

(Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning Groundhopper Guides may receive some compensation if you make a purchase after clicking one of these links.)

Lorenzo Insigne in action

Napoli are playing in their second straight Europa League. (Image: Clément Bucco-Lechat, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Introduction to Società Sportiva Calcio Napoli

The club was formed in 1926, and rose to world-wide fame when Diego Maradona joined in the 1980s. With Maradona (1984-91), Napoli won their only Serie A titles (in 1987 and 1990). His #10 was retired in 2000.

The players have traditionally worn azure blue shirts and white shorts. The color is derived from the blue waters of the Gulf of Naples and is the basis for their nickname, Azzurri, which they share with the Italian national team.

Napoli History

After Maradona left, S.S.C. Napoli struggled financially and endured several relegations. The club was re-founded in 2004 and has been in Serie A since the 2007-08 season. They have also won three recent Coppa Italia titles (2012, 2014 and 2020).

After qualifying for four straight Champions Leagues (2017-20) due to top-three finishes in Serie A, Napoli were fifth last season and are in their second straight Europa League. In 2020, Napoli won their group, but fell to Granada of Spain in the first round of the knockout stage.

Napoli have one Europa League championship, which they won in 1988-89 when it was called the UEFA Cup.

Napoli’s Biggest Rivals

The Derby del Sole (Derby of the Sun) also known as the Derby del Sud (Derby of the South) features Napoli and their rivals, A.S. Roma. The two clubs are considered the most popular outside of Northern Italy.

Napoli’s Stadium, Stadio San Paolo / Stadio Diego Armando Maradona

The Stadio San Paolo is the third largest stadium in Italy, but it is the largest used by only one team, with a seating capacity of 54,726. It was built in 1959, then remodelled for the 1980 European Championship, and underwent renovations ahead of the 1990 World Cup. The stadium hosted five matches of that World Cup, including the semifinal between Italy and Argentina in which Maradona scored the winning penalty kick after the game ended 1-1 in extra time.

Following Maradona’s death in 2020, the stadium was renamed Stadio Diego Armando Maradona by the Naples City Council.

One peculiarity of the stadium is the presence of local hardcore tifosi in both shortside stands. Curva B is where the older supporter groups, which lived their golden age in the ‘80s, gather. Curva A is filled with more recent fan groups who are always present even when the stands host visiting club supporters. Source: Cult of Calcio

Opening ceremonies in Naples

The stadium hosted the Opening Ceremonies to the 2019 Summer Universiade. (Image: GaeC86, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The City of Naples, Italy

The third-largest city in Italy behind Rome and Milan, Naples sits in the southwest corner of the country on the Mediterranean Sea with Mount Vesuvius dominating the landscape. Naples was settled in the 9th century BC before being refounded as Neapolis in the 6th century BC. It now has over three million residents.

The city was heavily bombed by Allied forces during World War II, and received extensive reconstruction post-1945. The Port of Naples is now one of the most important in all of Europe.

Naples’ historic city centre is the largest of its kind in Europe and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Cult of Calcio sums up the essence of the Naples:

The city of Naples is not like any other city. Located in Southern Italy, it is the most populous in the South and famous for its inhabitants – exaggerated, histrionic, and as loud as passionate. Neapolitans represent a great part of the historical image of Italians around the world.

However, Naples is also notorious for its chaos, suburban poverty and organized crime, which sometimes also infiltrates into the calcio. For better or worse, football is lived in Naples like in no other city in the country. You only need to travel around the city to find references to the team, its players and, obviously, Diego Maradona. Graffiti, shops, t-shirts, flags, scarves, the whole of Naples is painted in white and blue.

aerial view of Naples Italy

Naples, Italy (Image: Wolfgang Moroder, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

2021-2022 Europa League Schedule

Here are the matchups between Napoli and Barcelona:

  • February 17 Napoli at Barcelona, 6:45 p.m. local time.
  • February 24 Barcelona at Napoli, 9 p.m. local time.

Have a complete look at the 2021-22 Europa League schedule. You can watch the UEFA Europa League in the U.S. on Paramount+.

Buy Napoli Tickets from Groundhopper Soccer Guides

Groundhopper Soccer Guides is an official reseller of S.S.C. Napoli tickets. Read more about our ticket options at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona here and fill out the form to get an official quote.

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