Italian giants Juventus will face off against Serie A champions Inter Milan in a mouth-watering Coppa Italia final at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday.
Italian behemoths Juventus and Inter Milan will face each other in the Derby d’Italia for the fourth time this season in a mouth-watering Coppa Italia final on Wednesday.
Matches between both the teams have not been short of dramatic moments this season. Alexis Sanchez’s last gasp winner in the Supercoppa Italiana earlier this year was followed by a pulsating 2-1 win for the Nerazzurri at the Allianz Stadium last month.
With a top-four finish in Serie A wrapped up, Juventus can afford to put all their eggs in one basket and go all out at the Stadio Olimpico. Victory on the night will hand Massimilano Allegri and his side a trophy, adding some gloss to what has been a disappointing season.
Inter, on the other hand, are still very much in the title race and could have one eye on the upcoming weekend’s clash against Cagliari. Unlike the race for the Scudetto, Inter control their destiny against the Bianconeri and can thwart them to a second trophy this season.
Momentum is everything as Simone Inzaghi’s men chase a domestic double. An impressive come-from-behind win over Empoli will certainly have aided the Nerazzurri cause going into the game. Star striker Lautaro Martinez scored twice on the night, and Inter will hope that he has rediscovered his best form.
It promises to be a closely fought game that can make or break either side’s fortunes. Whether Juventus will end their season with a bang or Inter will pave the way to challenge for a domestic double remains to be seen. Either way, no quarter will be given as both sides chase the biggest knockout trophy in Italian football. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.
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With UEFA Champions League qualification secured, all eyes will be on Rome this Wednesday as Juventus look to secure a record 15th Coppa Italia trophy. The Bianconeri are the most successful team in the competition’s history and have won five of the last even instalments.
The Turin giants will be without Mattia De Sciglio who is suspended. Long-term absentees Weston McKennie and Federico Chiesa remain unavailable on the night. They will, however, welcome back Luca Pellegrini and Manuel Locatelli following injury setbacks. Whether either player will feature on the night from the onset is debatable. Their presence on the bench will hand Allegri more options if need be.
Allegri is likely to set his side up in a 4-5-1 that can be changed into a 4-4-2, a 4-3-3 or even a 4- 2-3-1 if needed. With little else to play for, the Italian manager is likely to go with a full-strength side on the night. The only exception is likely to be in between the sticks.
Juventus look set to retain their faith in reserve goalkeeper Mattia Perin who has been instrumental in their run to the final this season. The Azzurri star will start behind a back four of Danilo, Matthijs de Ligt, Giorgio Chiellini and Alex Sandro. Chiellini’s leadership and ability to organise the rearguard could prove pivotal against an in-form Inter side led by Lautaro Martinez.
Danilo and Sandro especially will have to be on their toes to keep the Inter wing-backs at bay. That is especially true for the former who will go up against Ivan Perisic. Denis Zakaria looks set to start as the midfield pivot should Allegri decide to start with Locatelli on the bench.
The Swiss international could arguably have the biggest job in shackling Marcelo Brozovic. Keeping the Croatian international quiet dampens Inter’s rhythm and upsets their ability to link the defence to the attack. Zakaria certainly has the energy levels to do so but whether he will rise to the occasion remains to be seen.
Adrien Rabiot is likely to occupy a central role and will assist Zakaria in shoring up the midfield. Both players are capable carriers of the ball and could break forward should the opportunity present itself. More so, Rabiot could also be shifted to the left should another central midfielder be brought on in the game.
Alvaro Morata will start on the left and should drift in when an opening presents itself. The other flank will be occupied by Juan Cuadrado who should get the nod over the ineffective Federico Bernardeschi. Paulo Dybala, playing in his last major final for Juventus should get the nod as the club’s chief playmaker. He will be tasked with carving open a resolute Inter backline to craft opportunities for Dusan Vlahovic, who will lead the line.
Probable Lineup (4-5-1): Perin; Sandro, Chiellini, de Ligt, Danilo; Rabiot, Zakaria; Morata, Dybala, Cuadrado; Vlahovic
It has been 11 long years since Inter last won the competition and they will be keen to end the hoodoo this season. The Nerazzurri are also fighting tooth and nail with arch-rivals AC Milan for the Scudetto and will be keen to maintain their winning momentum.
Inter have an almost full-strength squad to choose from. Alessandro Bastoni is the only doubt having sustained an injury. The youngster was rested in recent weeks suggesting that Inzaghi might have been saving him for the showpiece event. There is little to suggest that Inzaghi will veer away from his trademark 3-5-2 system. While it is a solid system that has yielded Inter many favourable results, it also makes them largely predictable.
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Veteran goalkeeper Samir Handanovic will start in goal behind a back three of Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni. De Vrij struggled against Empoli and was slow on the turn. It is a weakness that both Dybala and Vlahovic can look to exploit.
Marcelo Brozovic will once again be Inter’s orchestrator and will start in central midfield alongside Nicolo Barella and Hakan Calhanoglu. The solidity offered in the middle of the pitch will give Inter’s wingbacks – Ivan Perisic and Matteo Darmian freedom to push forward. The latter has been in better form of late and should start over Denzel Dumfries. Bringing on the pacy Dutchman once Juventus begin to tire could swing the tie in Inter’s favour.
Lautaro Martinez scored twice at the weekend and will start up front alongside Edin Dzeko. With Joaquin Correa impressing and Alexis Sanchez also in a good vein of form, Inzaghi can change his personnel should the match drag on.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Bastoni, de Vrij, Skriniar; Perisic, Calhanoglu, Brozovic, Barella, Darmian; Martinez, Dzeko
- This is the fourth time that both the teams are facing off against each other this season, Inter have won two games with the third ending in a draw.
- Juventus are the most successful team in Coppa Italia history having won the trophy 14 times. Five of them have come in the last seven years.
- Inter Milan are the third most successful team in Coppa Italia history with seven wins. But, they have not won the trophy since 2011.
- The last time these two teams faced off in the Coppa Italia final was in 1965, when Juventus prevailed 1-0.
- Juventus have a good win rate in Coppa Italia finals, winning 70 per cent of the ones they qualified for (14/20). This is significantly better than Inter’s win rate of 54 per cent in the showpiece event (7/13).
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The Argentine striker is enjoying his best season for Inter and was instrumental in the turnaround at Empoli last weekend. He was taken off in the 70th minute, perhaps with an eye on the Coppa Italia final.
With Edin Dzeko’s form falling off a cliff, Martinez will spearhead the Inter attack. The Argentine’s pace and guile could prove decisive against Chiellini, who is not known for his speed. This could help drag de Ligt out of position, giving the likes of Barella space to run in behind the Juventus defence.
Martinez has shown off his clinical ability in recent weeks and could make the difference once again on the night. It will not come as a surprise if the 24-year-old makes a decisive contribution in Rome.
Inter Milan 2-1 Juventus
It promises to be a closely fought game and should not be short on drama. Inter have the momentum and the weight of recent history behind them and will be keen to win their second trophy of the season. With the Scudetto race also still on, it is in the Nerazzurri’s best interests to not force extra time and finish the match within 90 minutes.
That being said, Juventus will look to defend resolutely and force extra time if need be. How well Inter will start and how quickly they can break the deadlock could set the stage for things to come. As things stand, Inzaghi’s team are a better-drilled unit and also have momentum going into the tie. The Hard Tackle predicts a close 2-1 win to the defending Serie A champions.