After shooting, safety concerns for Napoli-Roma
ROME (AP) — Security will be tight when Roma meets Napoli on Saturday for the first time since clashes that led to a fan’s death from a shooting before the Italian Cup final in May.
Roma fans have been barred from traveling to Naples for the game but there are still concerns of reprisal attacks.
Napoli fan Ciro Esposito died 50 days after he was allegedly shot by Roma fan Daniele De Santis. An investigation over the shooting is ongoing.
The match is a big one for both sides.
Roma pulled level on points with Serie A leader Juventus after it won and the Bianconeri lost Wednesday, while Napoli is still trying to shake off a slow start that has left the southern club seven points behind the leaders.
Later Saturday, Juventus visits struggling Empoli and Inter Milan meets last-place Parma. On Sunday, third-place AC Milan hosts Palermo at the San Siro.
Here are some things to know about this weekend’s Italian league matches:
The Napoli-Roma match will kick off at 3 p.m. local time (1400 GMT), an earlier-than-usual start time for matches on Saturdays in Serie A, as a precautionary measure to avoid violence.
Roma is planning to make the short trip to Naples by airplane rather than bus, and the squad’s hotel is being kept secret.
“We’ve been making appeals and releasing precautionary messages for months,” Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi said. “It’s going to be a risky day. ... I just hope that things calm down.”
Napoli coach Rafa Benitez didn’t want to discuss the violence concerns.
“I’m only concerned with the football that is played,” Benitez said. “I hope it’s just a regular football match and I’m only focusing on the technical aspects.”
Juventus allowed an injury-time goal in a 1-0 loss at Genoa on Wednesday for its first domestic defeat of the season.
Combined with Juve’s struggles in the Champions League, the Turin side has gained only one point in its last four away matches.
“You can’t allow a goal in the 90th minute,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “And we conceded it with a 6-on-2 situation inside our area.
“To win the title you don’t need 128 points, you need to earn one more point than the second-place squad,” Allegri added. “This will serve as a lesson for us. If you hit posts, crossbars and (Genoa goalkeeper Mattia) Perin makes two great saves, you can go home with regrets for not having won, but not with a loss. We need to improve in this department.”
The job of Inter Milan coach Walter Mazzarri remains in jeopardy even after a 1-0 win over Sampdoria on Wednesday, which was earned with a penalty in the 90th minute from Mauro Icardi.
The San Siro was less than half-filled for the match with an attendance of 28,057 — a sign that fans are losing confidence in the club.
But Mazzarri denied hearing whistles aimed his way by fans.
“I didn’t hear them,” the coach said. “It was a great atmosphere. Samp hadn’t lost yet and we deserved the victory. We’re improving. We played a great match and I’m proud of this squad.”
Next up for Inter is Parma, which has lost eight of nine matches, with coach Roberto Donadoni also in danger of losing his job.
With Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Gomez each out injured, Khouma Babacar has been a surprise in attack for Fiorentina.
The Senegalese striker scored twice in a 3-0 win over Udinese on Wednesday to bring his total to four goals in eight Serie A matches this season.
“He could have scored more. Baba needs to improve and eliminate the pauses he takes during matches and training. But he’s open to learning and he has big margins for improvement,” said Fiorentina manager Vincenzo Montella, who was a prolific scorer during his playing days with Sampdoria and Roma.
The 21-year-old Babacar came up through Fiorentina’s youth system and made his first-team debut at the age of 16.
Fiorentina is also excited about 20-year-old forward Federico Bernardeschi, a member of Italy’s under-21 squad who has scored twice in the Europa League this season.
Next up for Fiorentina, which is in 10th place, is a visit to Sampdoria on Sunday.
Andrew Dampf can be followed at www.twitter.com/asdampf