19.01.2016 14:17 - in: Coppa Italia S

    #LazioJuve, it's a knockout!

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    Wednesday night’s tie will see the continuation of a fascinating rivalry in domestic cup competitions between the Bianconeri and Biancocelesti

    One could make a compelling case in favour of Wednesday’s encounter between Lazio and Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico being the pick of this week’s Coppa Italia quarter-final ties.

    While Napoli may host Inter in a top of the table clash at the Stadio San Paolo tonight and Alessandria’s magical giant-killing run continued at Spezia last week, few cup draws bear as much recent and indeed more distant history as the forthcoming Coppa clash in the capital.

    First of all, tomorrow’s tie at the Olimpico is an exact rematch of last year’s pulsating final, clinched in extra time by Alessandro Matri, now of course of Lazio. 

    Secondly, Massimiliano Allegri’s men will be presented with the unique opportunity of destroying Biancocelesti cup dreams for a third time in a row following August’s Super Cup showdown in Shanghai. 

    Finally, for the Old Lady’s dominance of this fixture in Serie A, winning 75 of her 142 previous encounters, the Romans enter tomorrow night’s meeting with the slightest of upper hands in the Coppa Italia, knocking Juve out eight times (only Inter have succeeded in eliminating them on more occasions) since being first drawn together in September 1942.

    That five-goal thriller at the capital’s Stadio Mussolini, however, was merely an indication of the drama that would follow in the ensuing 73 years.

    Following a second consecutive elimination at the hands of the Romans in 1957/58, the Bianconeri would exact swift revenge on home turf in the 1959/60 semi-final courtesy of John Charles, a two-time winner of the competition, Sergio Cervato and Severino Lojodice.

    Fifteen years later, it was the turn of another illustrious name of the club’s past to guide them past the Biancocelesti.

    Having drawn 0-0 in the capital in their second game of the 1973/74 edition of the trophy, then contested in two rounds of group stages, Roberto “Bobby Gol” Bettega’s double sealed back-to-back 3-0 home wins to leave Lazio bottom of Group B.

    The result, however, was not enough to secure a place in the season’s showpiece for the Bianconeri, beaten to top spot by eventual losing finalists Palermo. 

    Perhaps surprisingly, the Bianconeri have only knocked out Wednesday’s opponents on two other occasions besides last spring’s decima-clinching triumph.

    In fact, Bettega’s brace applied the finishing touches to one of only two away victories in the cup at the Stadio Olimpico, the second arriving in 1987 thanks to Renato Buso’s excellent header and Aldo Serena’s decisive touch at the end of a chaotic goalmouth scramble. 

    Juve would savour just one more journey south for the 1994/95 semi-finals - made truly unforgettable by Fabrizio Ravanelli’s superb late winner - before embarking on a run of four consecutive away defeats against Lazio throughout the noughties.

    The Bianconeri would show their mettle once more in the deciding second leg at the Stadio Delle Alpi, Giancarlo Marocchi and Roberto Baggio’s epic 91st minute penalty writing off Paulo Sousa’s early own goal and setting the Old Lady on her way to a ninth and penultimate Coppa Italia crown. 

    Although there would be little in the way of cup joy for Juventus in the intervening 20 years, bowing out of the competition at the hands of Lazio in 1997/98, 1999/00, 2003/04, 2008/09 (with the help of Juve wing-back Stephan Lichtsteiner) and 2013/14 (likewise Hernanes), last May’s magical night in Rome went some way to righting those wrongs and settling the scores between two of the country’s most successful cup teams. 

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