Security will be tight for Roma-Napoli game after shooting
Apr. 02, 2015
ROME (AP) — Security will be tight Saturday for Napoli's first visit to Roma since a fan of the southern club died following a shooting before last season's Italian Cup final.
Residents of the entire Campania region that includes Naples are barred from buying tickets for the match and 1,000 police officers have been called in to maintain order.
"This tragedy should unite the two cities and I hope that the match is played in Ciro's memory," Roma Mayor Ignazio Marino said.
Napoli fan Ciro Esposito was shot away from the stadium before kickoff of the game last May then died of his wounds in June.
Antonella Leardi, Esposito's mother, presented a book titled "Ciro Lives" at Rome's Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday.
"The fact that there won't be Neapolitans is a defeat for the sane fans," Leardi said.
In another move linked to violence concerns, the match will have an early 12:30 p.m. (1030 GMT) kickoff.
Serie A officials were also taking no risks by assigning Nicola Rizzoli, the referee of last year's World Cup final, to officiate the match.
It's a key game for both clubs, as second-place Roma looks to increase its one-point lead over city rival Lazio with 10 matches remaining and fifth-place Napoli hopes to get back into the Champions League places.
Elsewhere, Juventus looks to protect its 14-point lead when it plays 13th-place Empoli; Lazio visits relegation-threatened Cagliari; and fourth-place Sampdoria visits sixth-place Fiorentina.
Also, struggling AC Milan visits Palermo and Inter Milan hosts bankrupt Parma.
All 10 matches will be played Saturday due to the Easter holiday.
Here are a few things to know about this weekend's games:
PROBLEMS AT HOME: Roma hasn't won a home match in Serie A since beating Inter Milan in November, a streak of seven games — six draws and a loss — that ties the club record.
The Giallorossi have also gone winless in their three European fixtures over that stretch, while their only win at home in the past four months was a 2-1 victory over Empoli after extra time in the Italian Cup in January.
Injuries to key players like Maicon, Seydou Keita and Kevin Strootman haven't helped matters, and Roma learned this week that key forward Gervinho will miss three weeks after tearing a leg muscle while playing for the Ivory Coast.
RUDI AND RAFA: Roma coach Rudi Garcia and Napoli counterpart Rafa Benitez are good friends and share mutual respect for each other.
Their relationship began in 2001 when Benitez invited Garcia to observe his Valencia squad train.
"It didn't represent anything for him but Rafa was generous and open with me right away," Garcia wrote in his autobiography. "He allowed me to observe his training sessions and study his pre-match tactics."
Since then, the pair have remained in contact.
"I respect him. He's a great professional and we're friends," Benitez said.
JUVENTUS INJURIES: Juventus has problems in midfield following injuries to Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba and Claudio Marchisio.
Passing standout Pirlo has been out for a month with a torn leg muscle.
France international Pogba is out for two months after tearing a muscle in his right thigh in the Champions League last month.
Marchisio injured his right knee in Italy training last week and was initially diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, which could have ruled him out for six-to-eight months. But further tests revealed no tear and he is questionable for the Empoli game.
Empoli features playmaker Mirko Valdifiori, who had a positive debut with Italy in a friendly against England this week.
Andrew Dampf can be followed at www.twitter.com/asdampf