Travelling Italian fans can expect a pizza the action

GLASGOW is braced for an Italian invasion with nearly 3000 Juventus fans expected to arrive in the city ahead of tomorrow night's crunch football game at Celtic Park.

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Piazza Italia's Lori Gallagher and Federico Martone are ready to welcome football fans of both sides
Piazza Italia's Lori Gallagher and Federico Martone are ready to welcome football fans of both sides

The SPL leaders will take on the Italian giants from Turin in the last 16 stage of the Champions League.

The first leg of the contest in the Glasgow's East End is expected to be a night to remember for both sets of fans - and one Italian-born Glaswegian is looking forward to welcoming the visitors.

Rocco Martone, who owns Piazza Italia in the Merchant City's John Street, has decked out his restaurant with black and white flags and football tops for the visitors and green and white for the home side.

His waiters, most of whom are Italian, will don football tops as customers watch the game live on TV.

As the superstars of the Italian side jetted in to Glasgow last night, Rocco told the Evening Times: "It should be a great game and a wonderful occasion.

"I have already taken bookings from around 20 travelling Juventus fans and I am expecting it to be a busy night."

Rocco, 60, was born in Italy but moved to Scotland more than 30 years ago.

He admits that when he is watching the action tomorrow night he will be torn between his Italian roots and his Scottish allegiance.

Rocco said: "I am in the unusual position of being a 'Juve' fan and a Celtic fan. So, who do I want to win?

"Well as an Italian born and bred I have to back Juventus but I'll be happy either way.

"I will be watching on TV. It should be a great night."

Piazza Italia is a family business and Rocco said his three children, including Big Brother star Federico, often help him out.

He added: "Hopefully we can give these Italian fans a taste of home in Scotland."

Previously, when high- profile international matches have been held in Glasgow, fan zones for the travelling support have been set up in the city. But Glasgow City Council, See Glasgow and Glasgow Life said no events had been organised this time.

A spokeswoman for Merchant Square, which has proved popular with away fans in the past, said they would not be organising an official event but the game will be shown on their indoor screens.

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