Thirty thousand roaring fans greeted Napoli players at the San Paolo on Friday as Rafa Benitez lead the side in an open practice session of the first team squad to help ring in the new year. The highlight of the event, though, was the side showing of their shiny new Supercoppa Italiana trophy, won in their hard-fought match against Juventus in Qatar almost two weeks ago.
There were chants and celebrations galore when the trophy was raised up for all to see, and the Curva B even sang a special song just for Marek Hamsik to praise Napoli's captain. When the squad first held up the trophy, it was greeted with a massive "OLE" from the fans, and they cheered with energy that hasn't been seen at the San Paolo in some time given the struggles of the season.
Hopefully, this can help spark a revival of passion in the fanbase, as too often this season the San Paolo has not exactly been it's normal, vibrant self. Attendance hasn't been as strong as normal, and has especially been low for Europa League matches, two of which make up two of the three worst-attended matches in the Aurelio De Laurentiis era of the club. With the success in the Supercoppa and Napoli slowly clawing their way back in to relevancy in the league again, however, things are shaping up to be much better in the second half of the season.
As for the training itself, Rafa had the team run some technical drills, and did some limited-field mini-matches. Still-not-officially-announced new signing Ivan Strinic was part of the session, often with fellow Croatian Josip Radosevic at his side, and drew impressive reviews of his crossing ability from the left side. Getting him in to the side to see what he can do in a proper match will be a real treat.