At home the great European exploits of the Azzurri. And how many protagonists, from Cavani to Zielinski
3 October – Naples
Napoli’s first time in the Champions Cup was with Real Madrid, it wasn’t magical because they were eliminated, but it allowed the Neapolitans to smell Europe, with a UEFA Cup that would arrive two years later, in the cycle of the great Maradona . But here we are talking about the Champions Cup and the first victory at the San Paolo will be marked by a brace from Diego, against Ujpest, then in the round of 16 the elimination in Moscow with Spartak, at the twilight of the Maradonian era, at the end of 1990.
cavani & mazzarri
Here is the couple who invents magical nights in the Champions League, over twenty years later. In November 2011, Walter Mazzarri’s Napoli sensationally beat Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City, Premier League champion, 2-1. A 2-1 achieved with a fabulous brace from Edinson Cavani. That Napoli reached the round of 16 and in February 2012 had another fabulous night beating Chelsea 3-1, a brace from Lavezzi and Cavani again. Napoli dreams of reaching the quarter-finals for the first time but stops in extra time at Stamford Bridge against Lampard and Drogba’s team, which in the meantime has passed from the management of Villas Boas to that of Roberto Di Matteo who will lead them to win the Champions League even at Bayern’s home in Munich, on penalties. Meanwhile in Naples with De Laurentiis the European mentality is growing and with this season there are 14 consecutive participations in European competitions: no one has such a long open streak like the Azzurri in Italy.
Now the Champions League music is also at home in Fuorigrotta: the greatest witness to the effect it has is the good German coach Jurgen Klopp who has always lost four times in Naples, even after winning the cup. It began in September 2013: 2-1 against Borussia Dortmund and an amazing decisive goal from a free kick by street urchin Lorenzo Insigne on his debut. The other three times the German lost to Liverpool and we get there in chronological order. Because the bitterest night is that of December of the same year, when despite a clear 2-0 defeat against Arsenal, Napoli will be third behind the English and Borussia on goal difference: no one has ever been eliminated from this first phase with 12 points , sad record. Four years pass for another thrilling night, with Real Madrid, March 2017. In the first leg of the round of 16, Zidane’s Blancos won 3-1, but in the return leg a perfect first half from Sarri’s men and a collective goal from Mertens lights up dreams. Killed in the second half by Sergio Ramos and Morata: 1-3. And then the Cup at Madrid.
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reds oh yes
And here’s the incredible thread with Liverpool. Twice with Carlo Ancelotti at the helm: 1-0 in October 2018 and 2-0 in September 2019. But it is above all the one in September 2022 that remains alive in the hearts of the fans: 4-1, with a missed penalty and a match dominated by Luciano Spalletti’s boys against the European vice-champions of the “unfortunate” Klopp. It is the match that more than any other gives Napoli an international dimension. Other nights of victories followed with Rangers, Ajax and Eintracht. From there we start again for another Champions League as protagonists.
October 3 – 08:54
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