At least one Napoli player is looking forward to the club’s possible title celebrations on Thursday in a town far, far from home.
Alex Meret, the team’s goalkeeper, is from the northeastern Italian city of Udine, where Napoli can secure the title by getting at least a draw against Udinese. That chance comes four days after the southern club failed to clinch the Serie A championship in front of its own fans on Sunday after being held to a 1-1 draw by Salernitana at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
The let down put a damper on celebrations that had already started after second-place Lazio lost at Inter Milan earlier in the day.
“We’re definitely disappointed because we wanted to celebrate at home with the incredible atmosphere created by our fans,” Meret said. “But we’re already focused on the match in Udine. … My family is there and they will come watch so it’ll be a wonderful feeling.”
Napoli is attempting to win the Italian league for the first time since Diego Maradona led the team to its only two Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990. The team has an 18-point lead and could even clinch the title a day earlier if Lazio fails to beat Sassuolo.
All that is proving to be something of a logistical nightmare for the club and the city.
City officials in Naples, unable to predict when the title celebrations will start, are considering imposing a traffic ban in the center from Wednesday, before the start of Lazio’s match. The city did the same thing on Sunday.
There are also security concerns regarding the team’s flight back to Naples from Udine. More than 10,000 fans greeted the team at the airport after its win at Juventus nine days ago and that would likely be increased exponentially if Napoli wins the title.
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis said the team could land early Friday morning or in the afternoon. The team could also be rerouted to a different airport.
Plans are also being put in place to show the match on giant screens at the stadium in Naples.
“We are having eight giant screens installed to put two in front of each stand to allow Neapolitans to watch the match like that,” De Laurentiis said. “There are organizational problems and we don’t have much time so we’re asking for a symbolic price of 5 euros ($5.50) and if there’s money left it will be given to charity.
“Moreover, the celebrations that we had prepared will happen on Sunday at the home match against Fiorentina.”