The hopes and dreams of a city seem to be slowly but surely fading away for another year. Once again the juggernaut of Juventus has proven just that little bit too powerful. This weekend Napoli visit the San Siro to face Inter in the knowledge that anything other than a win will signal the end of their title tilt.
26-years-ago the men from Naples made a similar trip whilst still very much in the championship race. Two weeks prior to this encounter they had faced AC Milan at the very same stadium, losing 3-0. A win the following week at home to Roma left them level with the Rossoneri at the top. Now they faced the other Milan giant, once more in desperate need of the three points.
Devastatingly for the Partenopei they were without their talisman and all-time great Diego Maradona, who had injured his back and not travelled. If that was not enough to make confidence wane, the Napoli players were met by a packed and intensely hostile San Siro.
Despite these factors, or perhaps because of them, Napoli started with intent. Intent that was rewarded after only seven minutes. The Brazilian Careca collected the ball about 15-yards into the Inter half and from there proceeded to produce something magical.
With a wall of Inter defenders in front of him and another hanging tightly to his coattails, Careca took off at pace towards the goal. Quickly his marker was shrugged aside as he continued full steam ahead. Unable to keep up, two more Nerazzurri defenders sold themselves too easily.
Careca now finding himself free on the edge of the area kept his cool to calmly slip the ball past the on-rushing Walter Zenga and into the bottom right hand corner of the net. Later in the first half Inter would have the ball in the back of the net themselves, Nicola Berti converting from close range. Sadly, for Interisti at least, the long arm of the linesman prevented it from being given.
However, four minutes into the second half Inter would have that equaliser. After bursting into space down the right, Lothar Matthäus whipped the ball in towards the back post where two Nerazzurri forwards awaited.
Yet it would be neither of them who would get their head to the ball as Napoli defender Ciro Ferrara sandwiched himself between the two. Unfortunately for the big centre half, he was only able to inadvertently nod it down past his own keeper for the leveller.
That goal proved all the impetuous that Giovanni Trappattoni’s men needed as four minutes later, in the 53rd minute, they took the lead. If one German proved pivotal in the first goal, another would go one better with the second. A corner from the right was swung in with pace, watching it all the way Jurgen Klinsmann got in front of his man to head the ball home from about seven yards out.
Inter were not done there however and on 58 minutes they made it 3-1. Alessandro Bianchi netted the goal but in truth Klinsmann was the architect once again, his initial shot proving too hot to handle for Giuliano Giuliani, who could only palm the ball into the path of the advancing Bianchi, who gleefully slammed home into the almost empty net.
No more goals followed as Inter picked up a big three points that brought them right back into the title race. In the end though, the season would eventually belong to Napoli, as the men from the south picked up their second and so far last Scudetto.
This Saturday the two face off once again in what will surely prove another thriller. Napoli would no doubt take a similar result if the Scudetto race were to finish as it did in 1990, but that looks far from likely. It is win or bust for the Partenopei on Saturday night and even then, it may be bust nonetheless.
Watch highlights of this classic match here
Words by Kevin Nolan: @KevinNolan11