Sports

'Carpi' diem: Minnows to swim for the first time with big fish of Italian football

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has been in imperious form during his side's defence of their Serie A title.
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has been in imperious form during his side's defence of their Serie A title. Reuters/Giorgio Perottino

As Juventus prepare to celebrate their fourth title on the trot, there'll be a new kid in town next season in Italy's Serie A. Carpi will play among the elite for the first time in their history.

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Fans of Carpi will be viewing the match between Frosinone and Bologna with especial interest on Saturday afternoon.

Frosinone are the only side in Serie B capable of beating them to the accolade of Serie B champions.

But even if Frosinone win, Carpi can wrap up the title by winning at Modena on Sunday evening.

On Tuesday evening, Carpi gained promotion to Serie A with a 0-0 draw against Bari. It was a stalemate that launched vibrant celebrations among the 70,000 souls in the town near Modena in northern Italy.

Only 15 years ago, the team was playing in the amateur leagues. But after overcoming financial difficulties, the club has risen four divisions in six years - an unprecedented exploit in Italian football.

No matter what happens next, the 2014-2015 season will forever be fabled among the faithful.

Promoted with four games to spare, the team boasted the league's second-best attack with 57 goals scored and the division's meanest defence which conceded 25 times in 38 matches.

The question will be, how will coach Fabrizio Castori react to pitting his wits against the bigwigs at Juventus, AC Milan, Sampdoria or Udinese?

Will Carpi's star striker Jerry Mbakogu cope with wily defenders in Serie A?

His 14 goals in 27 outings in Serie B is a world away from turning on the style at the country's most famous arenas. Will the 22-year-old Nigerian cope with the transition?

It is possible that he won't make the grade and that his flaws and rawness will be brutally exposed when he comes up against the likes of Giorgio Chiellini of Juventus.

One thing is for sure next season - unless apologies are forthcoming - Lazio will get a hostile reception when they play at Carpi. The locals are angry over comments made earlier this year in a phone call by the Lazio president Claudio Lottito.

He said that Serie A would be less marketable internationally with fixtures such as Carpi v Sassuolo or Frosinone v Chievo.

The Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini told Italian radio that Lottito had overstepped the mark with his views.

When the fixture list for the 2015-16 season is published, the Carpi fans will doubtless be looking out for when Lazio come to town. But they're also sure to be planning their trips to support their team at the San Siro and the Stadio Olimpico.

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