Monday, 11 June 2007

Sleeping giants back in the big time

Two of the sleeping giants of Italian football are back in Serie A after a goalless draw between Genoa and Napoli on Sunday proved enough for both sides to earn direct promotion.

According to Serie B rules promotion play-offs are only required if there are less than ten points separating the sides that finish the season in third and fourth place. After fourth-placed Piacenza were held 1-1 at home by struggling Triestina the 0-0 between third-placed Genoa and runners-up Napoli preserved Genoa's ten-point lead over Piacenza and put paid to any prospect of a play-off between third, fourth, fifth and sixth.

Napoli's return to Serie A, under the tenure of new President Aurelio De Laurentiis, has ended a bleak six-year spell in the club's history which began when they were relegated to Serie B in 2001 and then forcibly demoted into the Italian third tier after suffering bankruptcy three years later.

For Neapolitans the Scudetto successes of 1986/1987 and 1989/1990 and their 1988/89 UEFA Cup win, during the golden Diego Maradona-inspired era, seemed a long way off.

One of the oldest Italian clubs, Genoa have won the Scudetto title nine times. Their return marks the end of a 12-year absence from the top flight, which they thought they had come two seasons ago, only for their Serie A return to be annulled as a result of being found guilty of fixing a match. Like Napoli, Genoa too were sent back into Serie C1.

"We are back from hell," said a delighted De Laurentiis. "It's never easy to achieve this kind of result, especially for a young club. Don't forget we started again from scratch only three years ago."

Genoa's promotion also hails the return of one of Italy's most famous derbies, 'Il derby della Lanterna' between Il Grifone and city rivals Sampdoria. Serie A fans will also be treated to 'Il derby della Mole' between Juventus and Torino following the Bianconeri's promotion last month as Serie B champions.

[Napoli & Genoa secure promotion] - [Video: Chaotic finish in Genoa] - [Chaotic finish, in pictures] - [Photos] - [Serie B Week 42 Review] - [Napoli "back from hell"] - [Genoa enjoy promotion party] - [Reaction: Napoli coach] - [Reaction: Genoa coach] - [Serie A 2007-08]

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