The rivalry between Turin-based Juventus and Naples-based Napoli is one of Italian football’s classic rivalries. The two cities are nearly 500 miles apart, but for Italians, they might as well be on different planets.
The drastic difference between the two cities in their culture and history is in many ways reflected in the field. The fervent Campanilismo that underpins all of the Italian football rivalries is accentuated every time these two top-flight clubs meet, making the fixture exciting both on and off-the-field.
The Bianconeri are a symbolic powerhouse of Italy’s north, who along with their rivals AC Milan and Inter Milan have dominated the Serie A for much of the 20th century.
The Partenopei, on the other hand, have been the only team from the south able to challenge the might of the northerners – when Diego Maradona’s Naples clinched their first Scudetto in 1987, causing Juve fans to hold mock funerals for their team.
Mirroring the economic superiority of Turin, Juventus are the wealthiest club in Serie A. That wealth has allowed it to field the best players from across the world from Michel Platini, Zinedine Zidan, and to Gianluigi Buffon.
The most recent and famous addition is of Cristiano Ronaldo for a record 100 million Euros. Overall, Juventus have clinched a record 34 Serie A titles, which is 16 more than any other club.
Napoli, on the other hand, have always been representative of the working-class Naples. This has allowed the club to draw fans from across the South with Diego Maradona being revered with a god-like status across the Campania region.
Diego Maradona is perhaps the single most important figure in the battle between these two giants. They’ve won two Scudettos, which is two more than the club had managed throughout their whole history.
While the rivalry certainly peaked in 1987, it has been put on the back burner until the start of the last decade. Napoli’s relegation woes have meant that both the teams have faced each other only a few times in the intervening two decades.
The rivalry, however, has picked up with the start of the 2011-12 season as Juve have become the most dominant team in Italy. Napoli have regained their glory with the club finishing regularly in the top-five in Serie A since 2010.
Tensions between fans of both teams flared with the transfer of Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli to Juventus. The transfer resulted in widespread protests across Naples with Napoli fans being banned from Turin for Juventus matchups.
HEAD TO HEAD
The head-to-head stats between Juventus and Napoli are in favour of The Old Lady as the Turin-based club won 85 of the 182 fixtures between both teams. Napoli have prevailed in 40 fixtures, while 57 games were drawn.
Their recent fixtures, however, have been more competitive. Juventus won their ninth Supercoppa Italiana title back in January defeating Napoli 2-0 at the Mapei Stadium in Reggio. But the Partenopei quickly took their revenge, defeating Juve 1-0 at the Maradona Stadium in February.
The much-delayed reverse fixture between both the teams was once again postponed this week and the teams agreed to a tentative April 7 date.
The original encounter was supposed to be held on October 4 as a part of the third round of Serie A, but the Southerners were prevented from travelling to Turin by their local authorities.
Juve were granted a 3-0 administrative win which was overturned by the Italian Olympic Committee.
In an already packed Serie A calendar, it was a tough task to find a date suitable for both teams. However, the dismal performances of both the teams in European competitions have made the rest of their campaigns much lighter.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Juventus are third in the table with 55 points from 26 fixtures, while Napoli are a close fifth with 50 points in 26 fixtures.
Juve have recuperated from their Champions League loss with a 3-1 victory over Cagliari, while Napoli face Roma after putting AC Milan’s title hopes in doubt with their 1-0 win on Sunday.
With tight scheduling no longer a concern, both teams will be heading into the match looking to outsmart one another.
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