The following article, written by Jon Marthaler, appears on the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Italy’s north vs. south battle stirs soccer passion
With four months to go in the European soccer season, the title races in four of the five biggest leagues are basically decided. In Italy, though, just one point separates the top two — perennial powerhouse Juventus and afterthought Napoli. If you’re keeping an eye on a European league this spring, Italy is the place to watch.
To understand what this title race means in Italy, you have to look at the differences between the country’s north and south. Northern Italy is the country’s industrial center, up near Switzerland, always in a hurry. Southern Italy is Mediterranean, all about food and family and religion — and looked down upon by northern Italians as, effectively, hillbillies.