We entered the Curva Maratona about a half hour before kick-off. This was Torino's Stadio Olimpico, the first game of football on the continent I'd ever attended. Torino had just vanquished Bilbao in the Europa League, they hadn't been defeated in 12 games. Rafa Benitez and third-place Napoli were in town. Vendors sold shots of grappa and coffee to get the fans excited, as if it were needed.
The Curva Maratona, we were told, was the best place to watch the game. It was the Ultras section. Within ten minutes, bodies started falling. Fisticuffs broke out around us. Kick-off, flares and singing offered a distraction. But around the half hour mark, another fight broke out, bigger this time. The game itself had offered nothing similar in terms of action.
The second half was calmer. We found seats far from the din. Kamil Glik, Torino's captain, headed in a corner and Torino held on to win. Victory was sweet, even if the heavy-legged spectacle never matched the passion in the stands.