Lega Serie A CEO hails Saudi fans’ ‘enthusiasm for Italian football’ ahead of Supercup in Riyadh
RIYADH: Ahead of the EA SPORTS FC Supercup kickoff in Riyadh, the CEO of Lega Serie A has spoken of his delight that star teams and players from Italian football will once again showcase their skills in Saudi Arabia.
The 36th edition of the historic Supercoppa Italiana, to be held from Jan. 18 to 22, marks the fourth time that the prestigious competition will be held in the Kingdom.
For the first time, the Supercup features four teams — the winners and runners-up of Lega Serie A and the Coppa Italia — with the first semifinal between Napoli and Fiorentina on Thursday night. The second semifinal sees Inter play Lazio on Friday, with the final taking place on Monday Jan. 22. All matches begin at 10 p.m. at Al-Awwal Park, the 25,000-capacity home of Al-Nassr.
Luigi De Siervo, CEO of Lega Serie A, said: “Since we held the first Supercoppa Italiana final in Saudi Arabia, in Jeddah in 2019, we have seen the enthusiasm for Italian football from Saudi Arabian fans. Local fans have become more aware that Italian football is one of the most prestigious styles in the whole world. What the Saudi Arabian government is doing for their fans in attracting high-level players and matches is something very commendable.”
Napoli go into the match having won the Serie A title for the first time in 33 years last season and are determined to add more silverware to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona trophy cabinet.
Napoli manager Walter Mazzarri said: “This is a special match. It’s a chance for us to win a very important title. We are here because we are the champions of Italy, and we are going to do our best tomorrow and we will see what happens.
“We will play like we usually play. Fiorentina are a great and organized team, but we are going to do our best to get to the final.”
Meanwhile Napoli striker Giovanni Simeone, the son of Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone, said: “We’ll try to control the ball as much as possible tomorrow. Our team spirit will help us advance and give the best of what we have on the pitch. I am trying to do the best I can and always support and help my teammates.
“The game is going to be a tough match. The coach has really studied Fiorentina and the technical staff showed us some videos of them playing. The coach has spoken to every player about what needs to be done and everyone is ready. We work every day and try to do our best and we are very excited.”
Fiorentina were defeated in two finals last season — in the Coppa Italia showpiece 2-1 to Inter, and in the UEFA Europa Conference League to West Ham United by the same scoreline. The side from Florence would love to right some wrongs in Riyadh.
Fiorentina manager Vincenzo Italiano said: “It is thoroughly deserved that we have qualified and reached this stage. We will try to avoid mistakes that we have fallen to in the past. We have higher intelligence and know these games should be played with a different mentality and full attention.
“The past two finals we lost, we played high quality players therefore we should have better quality and good concentration now. We know any mistake, no matter how small it is, can cause the loss of the game. This is what gives us experience.”
He added: “As for the Saudi Arabian organization, it has been very good. We trained at Al-Shabab, and it was good. Conditions were good. Definitely, football in this country is developing well and at a fast pace. We are very happy here.”