Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain will return to Napoli tomorrow for the first time since his acrimonious departure in July, adding further fuel to the often bitter rivalry between the clubs.
The Serie A match also represents third-placed Napoli’s last, faint hope of catching the championship leaders and, if that were not enough, bad feeling is still simmering after a controversial Italian Cup match between them four weeks ago.
The second leg of that semi-final tie will be played at the same San Paolo stadium the following Wednesday.
Higuain spent three seasons at Napoli where he became a crowd favourite especially after scoring a Serie A record 36 goals for them last season.
Admiration, however, turned to scorn and outright hostility when the Argentine, who still had two years to run on his contract, moved to Juventus after they agreed to pay a 90 million euro ($96.67 million) buyout clause in his contract.
When news of his move first emerged, supporters gathered in the city centre to tear up pictures of Higuain and set fire to replicas of his number nine shirt. A banner bearing his photograph was tied to a dust cart.
At Napoli games this season, vendors outside the stadium have been selling toilet rolls with Higuain’s photograph on the packaging.
When Juventus and Napoli met in Serie A in Turin in October, there was an air of inevitability as Higuain scored the decisive goal in a 2-1 win for his side.