Classic Calcio Match: Napoli - Fiorentina 10th May 1987
The wait was almost over, would the Serie A title finally be taken away from the Superpowers of the north and proudly be presented to the so called poor boys of the south.
There was a carnival atmosphere inside the Stadio San Paolo. Napoli knew only a point was needed against Fiorentina to clinch their first ever Scudetto in the clubs history. However, with Fiorentina boasting talent like a young Roberto Baggio this wasn’t going to be a foregone conclusion.
Smoke billowing out from the packed San Paolo stands, explosions with fire crackers could be heard ringing around the stadium, it was an incredible sight to behold, you’d think the Partenopei faithful had already won Serie A but with only 2 games to go and only needing a point they had every right to be confident especially with Diego Maradona in their ranks.
The fans confidence clearly rubbed off on the players as the showed few nerves. With so much at steak Napoli looked to their main man. Maradona was pulling the strings as he had done all season he was creating chances out of nothing. La Viola just couldn’t get the ball off him as the Neapolians pressed and pushed forward.
On 29 minutes Maradona was at the heart of a masterful move as he played a beautiful pass to the feet of Giordano, he would lay off his strike partner Carnevale to slide home. The San Paolo erupted like Vesuvius itself, the noise deafening, they could feel it now, touch it almost, the Scudetto was coming south. Or was it? Fiorentina had settled now and Napoli had taken their foot off the gas after that goal.
Fiorentina were starting to look a bit more threatening and were awarded a free kick to the left of the 18 yard box. A fresh faced Roberto Baggio stood over the ball, striking it right footed he almost passed it past Claudio Garella in the Napoli goal, really poor goalkeeping and he knew it.
Baggio had silenced the San Paolo just 10 minutes after it went wild. The game was tied at 1-1 and that’s how the first half would end.
If Napoli could get through the second half without concealing the title was going South.
As the second half got underway the noise was just incredible with more smoke rising from the stands. Thousands of blue and white flags were waving in the Neapolitan sunshine, the fans were certainly doing their bit to help Maradona and co over the finish line. This was the longest 45 minutes in existence for any Neapolitan, not just in the stadium but for the rest of the city, sat by their radios in cafés, or packed round a tiny TV set.
Every time the young talented Baggio got the ball you knew he was capable of something, he threatened but each time Napoli managed to keep him at bay being marshalled at the back by Ciro Ferrara. Ottavio Bianchi was kicking every ball on the side lines, a few more minutes passed, still 1-1, that was enough. Napoli trying to get the inspirational Maradona on the ball he was trying to create but it was coming to nothing.
The scores fizzled through Juventus locked at 1-1 with Verona, the party was beginning already then the moment of history was made. Two blows followed by a long one of the game over, Napoli got their precious point to win their first ever scudetto.
The stadium was in a frenzy, this wasn’t just a victory for Napoli but for the south who had to put up with years of mocking from their richer counterparts in the North.
Napoli would go into complete the double by winning the Coppa Italia as well as for Fiorentina they finished the season a solid 9th position.
The two sides meet in the Coppa Italia final this weekend, being two if the most entertaining sides in Serie A if they both play to their potential we could be in for a real treat.
By Giovanni Dougall