MILAN, Italy, November 26 – Napoli will pay tribute to Diego Maradona on Sunday when they host Lazio in hopes of putting two painful and costly consecutive defeats behind them.
The football world honored Maradona on the anniversary of his death on Thursday, but Napoli are using this weekend’s game to allow the Neapolitans to finally say goodbye to where their icon was most in need. the House.
Napoli on Thursday asked supporters to arrive at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona more than three hours early so they can be in the stands for an “intense” commemoration ceremony dedicated to the man who led a team previously mediocre in their only two Serie A titles and the 1989 UEFA Cup.
Maradona remains a divine figure in Naples, where the children are still named Diego in his honor and murals of the Argentinian can be found throughout the city, despite his gruesome disgrace at the end of his eventful seven years in the south of Italy, a failed drug test and details of a sordid private life pursuing him as he fled to Buenos Aires in 1991.
Now, Napoli fans will be able to collectively express their love for Maradona at the stadium where he wove magic at the peak of his career, after being locked out by Covid-19 a year ago.
“Naples has always been there for dad, and he’s always been there for Naples,” his son Diego Maradona Junior explains in a recent Sky Italia documentary.
“You see a sticker in a car, or a mural, or a kid in the street that has a top with Maradona written on the back, and it fills me with pride because it has given the people of my town such joy. end. ”
Napoli are hoping for a boost from pre-match events as they face Lazio after losses to Inter Milan and Spartak Moscow.
Last weekend’s 3-2 loss to San Siro was Napoli’s first of the league season, narrowed the gap between the league leaders and Inter champions to four points and cost them their star striker Victor Osimhen.
Osimhen is expected to be out of action for three months after fracturing his left cheek and the socket of his eye in a sickening clash of heads with Milan Skriniar.
To make matters worse, their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Europa League are still on the line after a heavy 2-1 loss in Moscow on Wednesday.
Napoli’s attempt to maintain their Serie A lead has also been affected by the absence of Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, who has been a revelation in the midfielder since arriving on loan from Fulham this summer.
AC Milan, tied at 32 points with Napoli and at the top after winning Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night, welcome Sassuolo with coach Stefano Pioli who is set to sign a contract extension that will keep him at the club until ‘in the summer of 2023.
Meanwhile, Juventus travel to top-flight Atalanta, still reeling from their 4-0 demolition at Chelsea, four points behind their opponents who sit last in the Champions League.
Player to watch: Giovanni Simeone
As Napoli prepare to give Maradona the farewell he would have wished a year ago, another Argentinian in the form of Simeone is making waves in Italy.
After hitting both Juventus and Napoli in recent weeks, Simeone is enjoying the best season of his life on loan at Verona under Igor Tudor and has scored his nine Serie A goals in his last eight appearances.
Verona travel to struggling Sampdoria with European places in their sights thanks to the scorching form of the 26-year-old.
1 – the number of matches that Juventus have won by more than one goal
25 – Atalanta have a record number of points for the club after 13 league games ahead of Juve’s visit.
Cagliari vs. Salerno (10:45 p.m.)
Empoli v Fiorentina, Sampdoria v Verona (5 p.m.), Juventus v Atalanta (8 p.m.), Venezia v Inter Milan (10.45 p.m.)
Udinese versus Genoa (2:30 p.m.), AC Milan versus Sassuolo, Spezia versus Bologna (5:00 p.m.), Roma versus Turin (8:00 p.m.), Napoli versus Lazio (10:45 p.m.)