ROME ( Associated Press) – Khvicha Kvartskhelia took 37 minutes to score his first goal for Napoli in August, his Serie A debut.
And it didn’t take long for him to earn the nickname “Quaradonna” for his dribbling skills, which helped Napoli build an eight-point lead over defending champions Milan.
Then came a break of seven and a half weeks for the World Cup.
This Wednesday, when the Italian league resumes with 10 games, including a trip to Inter in Milan, Partenopei will need another big draw from Kvartskhelia to start a potentially decisive five-game stretch including clashes with Juventus and Rome. Contributions will be required. as a regional derby against Salernitana.
If Napoli can come out of those games with their lead, they will be on their way to their first Serie A title since Diego Maradona guided them to their only two crowns in 1987 and ’90.
“The city lives football and loves it. Everyone in Naples understands football,” Kvartskhelia told DAZN, the outlet that owns Serie A’s television rights.
When Kvartskhelia came to the fore and in Naples hardly anyone could pronounce his name, he earned many nicknames. But “Zizzy,” “L’Angelo Azzurro” and “Quaravaggio” pale in comparison to “Quaradonna.”
“They are all very good, but when even a small part of Maradona’s name is attached to yours, it is an honor and it creates different feelings from the others,” Kvartskhelia said. “‘Quaradonna’ is definitely my favorite.”
There will be a battle of surnames. Inter will hope to revive their attack nicknamed “Lula” and will be composed of Romelu Lukaku and Argentine Lautaro Martinez. Both come from diametrically opposite performances in the World Cup.
Lautaro helped Albiceleste win the championship. Lukaku looked ineffective and was eliminated in the group stage with Belgium.
Most of Napoli’s key players did not come to Qatar. Georgia, Kvartskhelia’s country, and Nigeria, Victor Osimhen’s country, did not qualify.
Milan resumed the campaign on the pitch at Salernitana, who had recently hired Guillermo Ochoa. The Mexican goalkeeper looked strong again in his fifth World Cup.
The Rossoneri could also have a new goalkeeper. They are in the process of signing Colombian Davis Vasquez to replace the injured Mike Magnan.
Milan and Inter have had a busy start to the year. They will also meet at the Italian Super Cup to be held in Saudi Arabia on January 18.
scandal at juve
Juventus was rocked by a scandal during the World Cup break. The board of directors resigned en masse and the Turin prosecutor’s office requested the opening of an investigation against the club’s former president Andrea Agnelli and 10 other former board members.
The club is normally the subject of an investigation for alleged false accounting.
The scandal also overshadowed the work done on the pitch before the break. The Bianconeri had won six straight games without climbing into a Champions League ticket spot after a poor start to the tournament.
Now, they will see a seventh game in white, visiting Cremonese, a team threatened with relegation.
Federico Chiesa and Argentine Angel Di Maria, who scored in the World Cup final, will return to Juve. In contrast, Paul Pogba is still injured and out, along with Dusan Vlahovic and Leonardo Bonucci.
Spanish defender Pablo Mari will be back on the bench at Monza after making an earlier than expected recovery from a knife attack at a shopping center in October.
Monza visits Fiorentina, with Nordin Amrabat, the hero of Morocco’s good performances in Qatar, returning.
Andrew Dampf is on Twitter as https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf