Napoli play Juventus on Saturday, a huge match for our beloved club not just for the fact that it can help them turn around a dismal start to the season, but also for the fact that it sees the partenopei go head to head with one of their most heated rivals. Perhaps the Derby del Sole with Roma is the "bigger" rivalry, but to many Napoli fans, the battles with Juventus have become far more important in recent years.
No one knows that more than Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis, and Napoli's outspoken owner took to the Radio Kiss Kiss airwaves to talk about exactly that, calling games against Juventus "special" and especially saying that tilts with them at the San Paolo are "the mother of all matches."
Where De Laurentiis would previously have spent much time going on about the match, though, he also spent some time praising Maurizio Sarri, his project, and the status of the club:
Let's give it some time. The championship is long and we give time to our coach to realize his project. Sarri is a true master, a professor of football, and he needs to work with his class footballers. On the market we are always active and will possibly act in January; we must always be sure to enhance our squad and test our players that have great value.
We're coming from three games where we scored 10 goals and gave up none. That means that we are a team and that we are on track.
Napoli in recent years has been one of the best expressions of the city. When outsiders only spoke of the "land of fires" and trashed us, we took important results in the international arena. We played in the Champions League, and for the last six years we are the only [Italian] team to participate in European competitions every year.
-Source: SSC Napoli official site
While everything in that is technically correct, it's a bit of a "always look on the bright side of life" view of things (stop whistling!). To be honest, I'm growing concerned that De Laurentiis is building Sarri up to be some kind of messiah, because he's not that at all. He seems like a solid manager, make no mistake, but he's not some all-conquering hero.
Anyways. Hopefully this weekend's match against Juventus is as much a classic in this rivalry as we've grown used to seeing of late, and ends as a win for Napoli. A hard-fought win over the Old Lady would be a huge feather in Sarri's cap, and a big boost to the team as they navigate a tough stretch of their schedule. Fingers crossed that things end up with a happy result.