Juventus vs AC Milan: Coppa Italia Preview and Prediction
Having understood the new terms Bananenflanke and Gegenpressing, it’s now time to increase your vocabulary with words like Trequartistas and Contropiedes as football is all set to resume in Italy. After a three month gap, Calcio returns, with everyone excited as Juventus host AC Milan in the second and final leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final tie.
The Bianconeri were fortunate and at the same time deserving enough to get away with a 1-1 draw at the San Siro in the first leg in February as Cristiano Ronaldo’s spot-kick was enough to keep his side in pole position to be dominant in the return fixture in Turin.
Teams began training less than a month ago and thus, it can also be called a game where the fittest may survive and get through to have a chance of lifting a silverware in a couple of weeks’ time.
It is also confirmed that there will be no extra-time available in the semi-final second-leg and final of the Coppa Italia to ensure that players are safe and do not get injured. In case of a draw, the match will directly be taken to penalties. However, the away-goal rule still applies.
Head to Head record
The numbers are incredible as the sides will be facing each other for the 232nd time. But statistics suggest that the home side have been dominant in the face-off in recent times. Milan have failed to beat the Old Lady since 2016 and considering the history of the clubs, Milan would certainly be looking to come out victorious.
The Rossoneri did well the last time the sides played and were just minutes away from a narrow victory until a penalty was awarded to Juventus and later converted by Ronaldo.
Ronaldo will be very much excited to get back in action after having an impressive run of games since the new year. His past record against their upcoming opponents certainly puts the home side ahead as Ronaldo has managed to score thrice in five games against Stefano Pioli’s team.
On the contrary, Milan will need to fire from all ends as they have failed to open their account in three of their last four trips to Turin.
Juventus were unstoppable in 2020 before the suspension of football, losing only three times. Their last impactful and memorable performance was against Antonio Conte’s Inter, where Juventus won 2-0 and managed to keep their narrow lead at the top of Serie A.
AC Milan on the other end, have not done well, winning only once in their last five games before the halt. Losing to Genoa 2-1 at home caused them to level with the sixth-placed Napoli, who are currently in the final European spot.
Juventus have lost only once in their last five games in all competitions, winning three, drawing one and the loss coming against Lyon in the Champions League. Milan have lost two, drawn two and won only once, in their last five games in all competitions.
Juventus have only one injury issue to deal with ahead of their Coppa Italia clash as striker Gonzalo Higuain strained a muscle in training recently and will be considered unfit for the game most probably.
Merih Demiral returned to full training recently after suffering a long-term knee injury and that confirms that Maurizio Sarri have a fully fit squad to choose except for the Argentine.
For Milan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be missing the game as he injured his calf in training and will not be fit in time to feature.
Gianluigi Donnarumma will return after missing out on the first leg and will be looking forward to putting up a strong performance against the likes of Paulo Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo at the Allianz Stadium.
Cristiano Ronaldo vs Alessio Romagnoli
Even though the Portuguese captain is ten years older than the Italian, it will be a strong physical battle between the two.
Ronaldo has been on fire since the beginning of 2020 and his staggering 93 min per goal in 22 Serie A games is something the defender will not happy to hear.
Romagnoli is a strong tackler and is known to play safe. Will he be able to physically outmatch the Portuguese legend, especially in the air? That would be an interesting duel to watch.
Leonardo Bonucci vs Ante Rebic
Leonardo Bonucci has been superb and robust since his return to Turin from Milan. Having started all the matches for Juventus in the league, Bonucci will be in good rhythm and that may be a problem for the Croatian striker.
Arriving on loan from Eintracht Frankfurt, Ante Rebic has been impressive, netting six goals in the league. His dribbling is something Bonucci will have to deal as the Milan striker will try to outfox Juve's backline. Rebic's fine crossing abilities mean that Bonucci will have to be on his toes to save his team as and when a problem arrives.
Given the long gap both teams have had during football’s suspension, it could go anyway. However, Juventus’ impressive home record and Ronaldo’s fine scoring form are some of the main factors that may turn the fixture in the favour of the Bianconeri’s. Zlatan’s absence will also have a negative impact on Milan as his experience would’ve helped the team a lot.
Pioli will be looking to keep the game as tight as he can as the away goal rule still applies. That will the best way to keep his side alive in the tournament unless something magical happens at the Allianz Stadium.
Predicted Scoreline: Juventus 2-1 AC Milan
featured image credits- ESPN
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