Criticize Aurelio De Laurentiis all you want for whatever reasons you have, but it's hard to deny that the man is very entertaining. Napoli's outspoken owner and president is talking ahead of their massive league match this weekend against Juventus, and as often, he has lots and lots of things to say:
"The match in Qatar was a global advertisement for our football, with 170 TV channels connected. We gave our utmost and so did the Bianconeri. We provided thrills, which you can expect next Sunday at the San Paolo in an equal measure. The whole world will be watching.
"Napoli-Juventus is the national derby for me. Juventus are not just a team from Turin, they have a platform of support that crosses all of Italy, even within our city. But Napoli is the flagship of the south.
"The game is absolutely special for me. The first time I beat Juve we were in C1, in a summer tournament. Then we joined the Bianconeri in the path from Serie B to Serie A.
"I was against playing the Super Cup in Qatar. My suggestion was to dispute it over two rounds, the first in Naples and the second in Turin, for the benefit of the tifosi. But people raised objections about the snow and the holidays. At this moment the San Paolo can fill up to the brim and I'm delighted about that."
Source: La Republicca, translation via Football Italia
There's a lot in there that's perfectly reasonable, but one thing is going to stand out for fans of both teams... and probably another fanbase as well. Calling Napoli-Juventus the "real Derby d'Italia" is going to ruffle some feathers, especially Inter Milan fans who will feel rather testy about being unceremoniously shoved out of Italy's top rivalry by someone they already don't like. It will be especially grating as De Laurentiis' declaration comes straight on the heels of Inter earning a hard-fought draw against Juventus in Turin on Tuesday.
You can definitely see where De Laurentiis is coming from, though. Especially with both clubs being down in Serie B at the same time after Napoli's bankruptcy and the calciopoli scandal got Juventus relegated, these two sides have been going blow-for-blow in some high-quality matches since De Laurentiis became Napoli's owner. Add in the North-South element of the rivalry and the upper-table relevancy of the two clubs in recent years, and it's little wonder why so many fans look forward to Napoli and Juventus facing off every year.
De Laurentiis also had a very good suggestion in there that's probably going to go overlooked: the Supercoppa could and should have been played in Italy as a two-legged tie between the two clubs. Spain uses a similar system in their Supercup, and instead of playing in a foreign stadium mostly full of fans who may or may not even watch Serie A on a regular basis, we could have been treated to two matches with major Italian stadiums full of energized, screaming fans. That would have been a spectacle unlike any other, and would have made winning the Supercoppa even sweeter than it was.
While Napoli-Juventus may not have quite the same historical relevancy as Juventus-Inter does, it's hard to think of a more exciting and compelling rivalry in more recent years. Serie A has been much better for it, and hopefully we'll get to enjoy many more years of it to come. Just, y'know, with a whole lot more success on Napoli's end. We enjoy it that way a lot more.