Juventus host AC Milan in finely poised Coppa Italia semi-final


Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus welcome AC Milan to the Allianz Stadium in Turin hoping to reach another cup final as Italian football gets underway again.

The first leg of this Coppa Italia semi-final finished all-square though, so the visitors still have a chance to cause an upset and move within touching distance of their first Coppa Italia trophy since 2003.

Where they stand

The Old Lady are top of Serie A as usual (20-3-3) and will be heavy favourites to reach the final, with the Rossoneri languishing down in seventh (10-6-10).

But league form can often be disregarded in cup competitions and AC Milan dominated for long periods of the first leg.

An aggressive performance on the counter attack saw them pepper Gianluigi Buffon’s goal with 11 shots on target, pick up seven yellows and one sending off.

Stefano Pioli’s boys couldn’t add to Ante Rebic’s strike on the hour though and conceded a heart-breaking equaliser in injury time – Ronaldo converted from the spot after Davide Calabria’s handball was spotted by VAR.

That away goal could prove crucial for Juventus, who won the Coppa Italia four years in a row, before Lazio overcame Atalanta in last year’s final.

It also made it 11 games in all competitions since they’ve tasted defeat against AC, who have also lost on their last seven straight visits to Turin.

Juventus celebrate beating Inter Milan behind closed doors, just before the coronavirus shutdown (credit: Vincenzo Pinto)

Team news

Gonzalo Higuaín is the Bianconeri’s major injury worry, after he strained a thigh muscle in training. Central defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Merih Demiral could also miss out.

All eyes will of course be on Ronaldo. He’s got 35 goals in his last 35 games and the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is sure to see hosts Juventus through to the final, if he’s at the top of his game following the three-month break.

Elsewhere, Welsh wizard Aaron Ramsey and Miralem Pjanic could both feature in midfield, despite continued speculation about transfers away from Maurizio Sarri’s.

The Rossoneri, meanwhile, will be without Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimović, who picked up an Achilles tendon injury last month.

Theo Hernandez, who was sent off in the first leg, and Samu Castillejo (yellow cards) are also suspended for the visitors, whilst Mateo Musacchio (ankle) is a doubt.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is fit to return in goal after using the lockdown to overcome a recurring ankle injury.

Milan are likely to rely on young Portuguese striker Rafael Leão to lead the line and number ten Hakan Çalhanoglu to pull the strings behind him.


Maurizio Sarri has admitted that he doesn’t know if his side will be ready. He said: “None of the staff at this moment knows where the preparation is because we come off an abnormal interruption, longer than normal.

“Usually the players remain active even on vacation, while this time, for sixty days, apart from small activities carried out at home, they have stopped.

“This is a unique situation, which does not give us any certainty, also because we have obviously not played friendlies.

“I am satisfied with what I have seen during these days in training, but the response of the game is different.”

On his star striker, he continued: “Physically, Ronaldo is fine. He logically lacks the sensations of the pitch, but his responses in training are good. Our goals for the next three months pass by with him. 

The Juventus manager is also wary of relying on their away goal tonight: He added: “AC Milan has always created problems for us this year, the result of the first leg does not guarantee us anything, so it will be a very open game.”

Stefano Pioli (credit: Associated Press)

Visiting boss Stefano Pioli was more bullish about his side’s fitness than his home counterpart.

He said: “I have to say they returned in good shape. They worked hard at home and are working hard here.

“It goes without saying no one will be in perfect condition [but]that goes for our opponents too. Lucas Paqueta is one of the most in shape.

His enthusiasm for the return to action continued: “Those of us who love this sport have really missed the pitch and the smell of the grass.

“Now that we are fortunate enough to restart, we’ll need to do it with all our passion and enthusiasm, above all so we can entertain and please our fans, and all the football fans who will be following from home in this particularly delicate moment of our lives.”


About Author

Comments are closed.