An inconsistent Juventus will look to end their season with a trophy as they take on Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia semifinal at the Allianz Stadium.
An inconsistent Juventus side will be seeking to make it to their seventh Coppa Italia final in eight years when they take on Fiorentina in the second leg of their semifinal on Wednesday.
The Bianconeri come into the second leg with a 1-0 lead to protect. Lorenzo Venuti’s stoppage-time own goal gave Massimilano Allegri’s side a get out of jail card and the advantage going into the return fixture. With home advantage to boot, the onus is now on them to get the job done.
It has been a rather curious season for Juventus, who have largely failed to get going. Despite a string of poor performances, the Turin giants have managed to stay in the fight for a top-four spot and look likely to qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League.
Having dominated Italian football over the past decade, it is unbecoming of the Old Lady to finish the season trophyless. With the Serie A and Champions League titles out of reach, all the attention will shift to the Coppa Italia.
Fiorentina, to their credit, dominated the first leg but failed to put their chances away. Juventus are likely to be in for a similarly difficult match this time around and will need to be at their best. The 3-0 home defeat to Villarreal should serve as a warning to Allegri’s men going into the matchup against La Viola.
Juventus certainly have the better squad and paper and even managed to prise away Fiorentina’s star striker, Dusan Vlahovic last January. Whether it will be enough or Fiorentina will silence the Allianz Stadium remains to be seen.
The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics could be deployed.
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Allegri will be without long term absentees Manuel Locatelli, Federico Chiesa, Kaio Jorge and Weston McKennie, who are not close to returning to action.
Dutch international Matthijs de Ligt was forced off against Bologna but should be available to face Fiorentina. The youngster has formed an excellent understanding with Giorgio Chiellini, and the pair looks set to reprise their partnership at the heart of the Juve defence.
Juventus’s problems in central midfield were further laid bare when Arthur Melo was forced to sit out the game against Bologna with an ankle issue. He now looks set to be available for Wednesday’s clash but is unlikely to start.
Allegri is likely to set up his side in a 4-4-2 formation on the night. Mattia Perin, who recently signed a new deal has started for Juventus in the cup and looks set to reprise his role in between the sticks. The Italian will start behind a back four of Danilo, De Ligt, Chiellini and Mattia de Sciglio.
Juan Cuadrado looks set to start on the right of midfield with Alvaro Morata on the other flank. With Locatelli out and Arthur not at his best, the Italian giants could opt for a midfield pairing of Denis Zakaria and Adrien Rabiot.
Paulo Dybala will start alongside Dusan Vlahovic upfront on the night. Dybala could swap positions with Morata and drop into midfield if needed to act as the playmaker. This could see Juventus shift to a diamond formation in midfield with Zakaria moving to the defensive base and Rabiot switching to left midfield.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2):Perin; Danilo, De Ligt, Chiellini, De Sciglio; Zakaria, Cuadrado, Rabiot, Morata; Vlahovic, Dybala
La Viola will have to contend with a former favourite in Vlahovic who now leads the Juventus line. The Serbian has shown an inability to influence matters when isolated from the Juventus midfield, and Fiorentina will seek to do just that on the night.
Experienced midfielder Giacomo Bonaventura was the only injury concern for the visitors. The Italian has been struggling with a knee injury for a month but has now made the matchday squad for the game. They will also be boosted by the return of Lucas Martinez Quarta, who was suspended for the first leg. He, however, looks set to start on the bench.
Fiorentina has fully embraced the 4-3-3 formation under Vincenzo Italiano and looks set to make use of it once again, this time at the Allianz Stadium. Pietro Terracciano will start in goal with a back four of Alvaro Odriozola, Nikola Milenkovic, Igor Julio and Cristiano Biraghi ahead of him.
SQUAD LIST | 📄
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The midfield trio of Gaetano Castrovilli, Sofyan Amrabat and Lucas Torreira will seek to take advantage of Juventus’s absentees in the middle of the pitch. Seizing control of the middle of the park will permit the Viola to make full use of their frontline consisting of Nicolas Gonzalez, Krzysztof Piatek and Jonathan Ikone.
Fiorentina are capable of turning on the style when needed and could hit Juventus hard should they win the midfield battle. Not only will that give them control of the ball but also isolate Vlahovic upfront, starving him of service.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Terracciano; Odriozola, Milenkovic, Igor, Biraghi; Castrovilli, Amrabat, Torreira; Gonzalez, Piatek, Ikone
- Both teams have faced each other 33 times so far with Juventus winning 19 times and Fiorentina coming out on top in just five matches.
- Fiorentina and Juventus last met each other in the Coppa Italia back in the 2014/15 semifinal where the Bianconeri came out on top with an aggregate score of 4-2.
- Fiorentina have not won the Coppa Italia since 2001, the last of their six triumphs in the competition.
- Juventus are the most successful team in the competition, having won the trophy 14 times. Four of these were under Massimilano Allegri.
- Fiorentina haven’t progressed past the semifinal stage since the 2013/14 campaign.
- Juventus are the defending champions and have won the competition five times in the last eight years.
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Dusan Vlahovic is without a doubt the most dangerous player on the pitch and will need just a half chance to turn the match’s tide in his side’s favour. An assassin in front of goal, he is among the finest goalscorers in Europe, let alone Serie A.
Fiorentina will be well aware of his traits given that he made his name for La Viola before leaving them for Juventus last January. The Serbian is both opportunistic and patient and will be sniffing for any opportunity that will come his way.
While he is entirely capable of making runs behind the Fiorentina defence, it remains to be seen whether his teammates can offer him reliable service. Juventus’s inability to offer a creative spark from midfield has often left the striker isolated upfront, and it remains to be seen if Fiorentina can do the same.
Juventus 1-2 Fiorentina (Fiorentina win on away goals)
Juventus struggled against Bologna at the weekend and once against showed the chinks in their armour. Fiorentina are a superior side and showed in the first leg that they can cause the Bianconeri several problems.
Fiorentina also defeated Juventus 3-0 at the Allianz Arena earlier this season and are well capable of repeating the result. Despite losing Vlahovic, La Viola packs a punch and can certainly surprise an out of sorts Juventus on their day.