Ground: Mapei Stadium (Stadio Città del Tricolore)
Date: 28th October 2014
Match: Sassuolo - Empoli 3-1 (Serie A)
Attendance: 10 710
With exception of Bologna vs Trapani, the match I attended on Monday evening, there was a full round of matches in Serie B on Tuesday evening. One match in Serie A, Sassuolo vs Empoli, was moved to Tuesday evening as well and with Sassuolo playing in Reggio Emilia the decision where to go was quite easy. Reggio Emilia is only a 40-minute journey by train from Bologna and after a late breakfast I left Bologna at 10.52 on Tuesday morning. Sassuolo is a small town with a population of around 40 000. In 2008 the local football club, US Sassuolo Calcio, for the first time ever won promotion to Serie B. Since the club´s ground, Stadio Enzo Ricci, only has a capacity of 4 000 Sassuolo played their matches in Serie B at Stadio Alberto Braglia in Modena. At the end of 2013 Sassuolo were promoted to Serie A and when the 2013/14 Serie A season started the club moved to Mapei Stadium (Stadio Città del Tricolore) in Reggio Emilia. Mapei Stadium was opened in 1995 replacing Stadion Mirabello as the home of Reggiana. Reggiana nowadays play in Lega Pro 1 and with Sassuolo playing in the town I guess Reggiana are struggling to attract sponsors and fans. In December 2013 Sassuolo Calcio bought Mapei Stadium and the club is one of only two (Juventus being the other) in Serie A who actually owns their own ground.
My hotel was across the street from the train station in Reggio Emilia and after checking in I used the mH minibus service taking me to Mapei Stadium. It would take me around 30 minutes to walk to the ground but for €1,50 I preferred the bus. The weather was as nice as yesterday and I could take some exterior pictures of the Mapei Stadium with a blue sky as background. Unfortunately I couldn´t find an open gate to sneak in though. I then decided to walk back to the city centre where I did some sightseeing before ending up at a nice café for a late lunch. At 15.30 I was back at my hotel where I rested for a few hours. Shortly after 6pm I left my hotel and I tried to use the mH minibus service yet again. Because of the match the minibus didn´t go the the ground and since I didn´t want to walk for 30 minutes I took a taxi. It turned out the taxi driver was a AC Milan fan and when I told him I was from Sweden he said "Ibrahimovic Unika". The price for the taxi ride was only 8 Euros and I was dropped off next to the ticket office. For 30 Euros I bought a ticket for Distinti Centrali. When I showed my passport for the person in the ticket office said "Svezia, Ibrahimovic". Zlatan really is well-known in Italy! At 19.15 the turnstiles opened and once again being from Sweden (or at least a foreigner) meant the body search was skipped. From the outside Mapei Stadium looked quite "fresh" but once inside I realized the ground was quite basic. Capacity of Mapei Stadium is 21 500 and the entire North Stand (Gradinata Nord) is given to away fans. Empoli brought around 150 fans so lots of space for them this evening.
Sassuolo had most of the chances in the first half but it was the visitors who scored the only goal, 0-1 at half-time. In the second half it was all Sassuolo. Apart from missing a penalty they scored three goals to win 3-1. The atmosphere inside Mapei Stadium was alright for this match. Sassuolo vs Empoli is not exactly the biggest game of the season for the home fans but if they want to stay in Serie A it is matches like the one today they have to win. After the match I couldn´t find any taxis but I walked quite fast and was back at my hotel by 11pm. Tomorrow my tour continues with a visit to Florence. Plenty of interesting sightseeing looking forward to!
Pictures from Reggio Emilia
Piazza Camillo Prampolini
Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta
Basilica di S. Prospero
Pictures from Sassuolo vs Empoli
Gradinata Sud, rear
Mapei Stadium at night
Penalty, Sassuolo (missed)
View of play
View of play