Juventus will be hoping to sustain their narrow one-goal advantage when they take on Inter Milan in the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final on Tuesday.
After yet another exciting weekend in the context of the title race, the Serie A fans will shift their attention towards the Coppa Italia where the fate of the semi-final affair between Juventus and Inter Milan still hangs in the balance. The two sides are set to meet on Tuesday in a second-leg clash at the Allianz Stadium.
Juventus have an excellent advantage heading into this game, having taken a 2-1 lead away from home in the first-leg. Cristiano Ronaldo was the star of the show, netting a first-half brace that cancelled out Lautaro Martinez’s early strike, inflicting a damaging result on Inter Milan, who now have an uphill task in Turin.
The Nerazzurri will have to win this game by a two-goal margin or at least score three goals in order to cancel out Juventus’ away-goal advantage. It is a near-impossible task, especially at the Allianz Stadium and even though the Bianconeri have been far from impressive under Andrea Pirlo, they have shown promising signs in recent matches.
As a matter of fact, Juventus are heading into this game on the back of a six-game winning streak in all competitions, with their latest triumph coming against AS Roma on Saturday. Their last defeat did, however, come against Inter and Antonio Conte’s men will be hoping to replicate that 2-0 performance last month in their bid to reach the final of the Coppa Italia.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at the two sides ahead of this enticing second-leg affair as both teams look to seal a ticket to the final of this coveted competition.
Team News & Tactics
Due to the lack of crowd, Juventus’ home advantage may not necessarily be applicable. But, their one-goal advantage means they can have a definite gameplan going into this match.
Although Andrea Pirlo is not exactly a defence-oriented manager, the Italian will fancy a more passive approach as they did in the second half against AS Roma. The likes of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci produced a defensive masterclass to help the Bianconeri seal a 2-0 win at the Allianz Stadium.
The duo could be required once again as Juve look to keep hold of their narrow advantage. Matthijs de Ligt and Merih Demiral do, however, provide alternatives, especially if Bonucci faces fitness issues. There might also be changes elsewhere in the defensive setup with Gianluigi Buffon and Juan Cuadrado hoping to return to the lineup.
Cuadrado’s more attacking approach should see him provide the right-sided overload for Juventus. At the same time, it could see Alex Sandro sacrificed from the starting eleven, with Danilo set to shift on to the opposite flank. The Brazilian is set to operate in a deeper role, supporting the two centre-backs whenever necessary.
The right-sided overload should also see Federico Bernardeschi operate on the same flank while Federico Chiesa may start on the left side in order to further strengthen Juventus’ balance. These two are expected to act narrowly with the two midfielders in Rodrigo Bentancur and Arthur, thus forming Juve’s second bank of four.
And finally, the attack for the hosts will be spearheaded by Cristiano Ronaldo and Dejan Kulusevski, who returns to the side after his substitute cameo against AS Roma.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Buffon; Cuadrado, Bonucci, Chiellini, Danilo; Bernardeschi, Arthur, Bentancur, Chiesa; Kulusevski, Ronaldo
Inter Milan have been dealt a blow heading into this game as Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez have been ruled out due to suspension. Although they are mere alternatives for a strong midfield and attacking unit for Antonio Conte, their absence could be noticeable nonetheless, with Vidal, in particular, providing the experience that could have been useful against a side of this calibre.
The Chilean’s absence, though, should make the way for Roberto Gagliardini to return to the starting lineup. The Italian may not provide that aggression and experience prevalent in Vidal’s game but does indeed have the technical ability as well as the energy that should combine well with Nicolo Barella in midfield. These two are expected to operate just ahead of Marcelo Brozovic in the holding midfield position.
Sanchez’s absence, on the other hand, means Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku are set to spearhead the attack for Inter Milan. They do have the quality to breach any defence in the world, but a lot could depend on how they receive support from their teammates and that is where Achraf Hakimi comes into the fray.
The Moroccan international has emerged as a vital asset to Inter’s chance-creation. His constant runs out on the right flank should keep both Danilo and Chiesa busy, allowing more freedom for the Inter midfielders as well as the attackers. Ashley Young, meanwhile, should adopt a more defensive approach on the opposite flank.
Antonio Conte is unlikely to make any changes to his defensive unit, thus persisting with the proven combination of Stefan de Vrij, Milan Skriniar and Alessandro Bastoni.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Barella, Brozovic, Gagliardini, Young; Martinez, Lukaku
- Juventus have failed to keep a clean sheet in only one of their last six matches, in the first-leg encounter against Inter Milan in Coppa Italia.
- In the win over AS Roma, Juventus recorded their 6th clean sheets in the current Serie A campaign: in 4 of these six games, Giorgio Chiellini was on the pitch.
- Inter Milan are the top scorers of the Serie A this campaign, one of few clubs in Europe’s top five leagues to have exceeded the 50 goal mark so far, along with the likes of Olympique Lyon and Bayern Munich.
- Inter have scored exactly two goals in five of their last eight matches in all competitions, with their latest victory coming in the form in a 2-0 result against Fiorentina. Two good!
- Since joining Juventus, Cristiano Ronaldo has made eight appearances in the Coppa Italia, scoring four goals in the process, with two of them coming in the ongoing campaign.
Player to Watch
Cristiano Ronaldo has indeed been on a sparkling run of form, especially at a time when Alvaro Morata has underperformed while Paulo Dybala has struggled with fitness. He is, therefore, an indispensable member of this Juventus setup and his qualities could once again be needed as the Bianconeri look to breach the Inter defence to score a goal that could seal the tie.
Ronaldo’s hunger to find the back of the net, combined with his imposing presence in the final third are a handful for any opposition. But, Inter do have one of the strongest defensive pairings in Europe, so it could turn into an eye-catching affair in this exciting contest in the Coppa Italia this midweek.
Juventus 0-0 Inter Milan
Despite the sheer quality present in both the teams, this could turn out to be a dull affair. Juventus are already expected to employ a defensive approach, with their deep defensive line looking to frustrate the opposition attack. Ultimately, we expect the home side to remain strong enough to see out the storm from the Nerazzurri, judging by their recent run of clean sheets.