If Barcelona is ‘more than a club’, then this is ‘more than a game’. It is a battle for supremacy.
Dating back to the mid 1980s, when both clubs were at their peak, the rivalry seemed over when Napoli were struggling in Serie C1. But, a dormant volcano usually results in the strongest eruption.
The Northern/Southern divide in Italy has always been existent. Some Northern Italians overlook the South, wishing to undo the Risorgimento in 1861. To differentiate between the North and the South think of this: Industry vs. Underdevelopment.
Northern Italy, especially Florence was the birthplace of the Renaissance. Southern Italy was the birthplace of the Mafia and Camorra.
In 1991, Umberto Bossi established the ‘Lega Nord’ or the 'North League'. This political party calls for the independence of ‘Padania’. In short, Padania is basically Northern Italy. This Lega Nord party voices its opinion, its beliefs. They want independence, labeling Southern Italy as a ‘burden’. Lega Nord don’t want the South to share their ‘success’. The 'Lega Nord', albeit established in 1991, perfectly illustrates the Italian situation.
When it comes to an opposition there is nothing more sinister than the Camorra, the crime syndicate founded in Naples. Some researchers and historians are adamant that the Camorra and the Sicilian Cosa Nostra are the reason why the South is developing slower.
Despite the Lega Nord being based in Milan, the rivalry with Juventus is huge. At the start of the 84/85 season Diego Maradona became the world’s most expensive player, he wasn’t heading north. He had penned a deal with Napoli.
1986/87 was absolutely majestic, and along with Bruno Giordano and Careca, they formed the MA-GE-CA trio. Mass celebrations erupted in Naples as the city’s club had won their first Scudetto, three points ahead of Juventus. A UEFA Cup and a Scudetto followed in 1989 and 1990.
From the 86/87 season onwards, the tensions had reached an unprecedented zenith. Napoli had been champions of Italy. When Napoli were up against Juventus, Inter or Milan they were affairs loaded with hostility.
There is nothing that sums up the differences and problems better than Maradona’s quote before the World Cup semi-final in 1990.
I don't like the fact that now everybody is asking Neapolitans to be Italian and to support their national team. Naples has always been marginalised by the rest of Italy. It is a city that suffers the most unfair racism.
The rivalry has changed since the 80’s. Napoli are once again a superpower after suffering from financial problems which meant that they had ceased to exist in August 2004.
On Sunday, these tensions will be revived, a civil case in 90 minutes.
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