02.03.2016 12:00 - in: Coppa Italia S

      Ten key #InterJuve numbers

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      Impenetrable defences, super subs, past meetings and everything else you need to know about tonight’s semi-final second leg at the San Siro summarised in ten key numbers

      It is not just in Serie A, where they are proud owners of the league’s meanest defence (15 goals against), that Juventus have demonstrated their backline brawn this season. Torino, Lazio and Inter have all tried and failed to breach the holders’ defence so far in this year’s Coppa Italia, mustering a total of just two shots on target between them.

      Holding a commanding three-goal advantage from the first leg, a fourth consecutive cup clean sheet for the Bianconeri would see them comfortably seal their place in the final.


      Should they do so, the 10-time champions would head south to Rome for the competition’s showpiece event at the end of May for the third time in five seasons and the 15th in their history, a total bettered only by already eliminated Roma (17). 


      What is it about knockout football that brings the best out of Alvaro Morata?

      The Spaniard’s strikes in Dortmund, Madrid and Berlin had Bianconeri fans dreaming of cup glory last season in the Champions League and his efforts up front in the Coppa Italia have fired them within touching distance of silverware once again this year.

      With two goals and two assists to his name, Morata has been the most productive player in the competition from the last-16 stage onwards and one more of either at the San Siro tonight would surely confirm his status as the Old Lady’s cup king. 


      Taking April’s semi-final first-leg defeat to Fiorentina into account, Juventus have won seven of their last eight Coppa Italia ties, racking up an impressive 21 goals in the process thanks largely to the sizeable margins of victory over Verona (6-1) in last season’s last 16, and Torino (4-0) at the same stage this term.


      Following three defeats and four draws, Juve were without a win in seven Coppa Italia encounters against the Nerazzurri before January’s 3-0 first-leg triumph at Juventus Stadium, a result that saw the Bianconeri reaffirm their dominance of this fixture over the past 60 years or so.

      Meeting in the cup for the 31st time tonight, the Old Lady leads Inter by 14 wins to nine, six of which have impressively come at the San Siro. You would have to go back as far as 1992 for the last of them though, Roberto Baggio’s extra-time double sending the Bianconeri into the semi-finals at the expense of Luis Suarez’s Inter. 


      Whether Paulo Dybala starts a game from the first minute or comes off the bench in the closing stages, the result is often the same either way.

      Hence far given deserved rests in the Bianconeri’s run to the semi-finals, Dybala has still managed to score twice in this year’s Coppa Italia despite spending a total of just 51 minutes on the field spread across three cameo appearances against Lazio, Torino and Inter.

      The Argentine was in a particularly noticeable hurry in the first leg at Juventus Stadium last month, needing just six minutes to slot past Samir Handanovic, having taken the place of strike partner Mario Mandzukic a quarter of an hour from time. 


      Bianconeri fans will no doubt hope to have proceedings wrapped up long before the final half an hour in Milan but it is worth noting nonetheless that 69 per cent of Juventus and Inter’s cup goals this season have come in the final 30 minutes of matches (nine from 13.)

      With just three strikes between them in the first halves of their respective ties so far, expect a goalless opening period at the San Siro. 


      However convincing Massimiliano Allegri’s men were in the first leg they will be wise to remember that the Nerazzurri have in fact overturned a three-goal first-leg deficit before.

      Well-beaten by Verona at the Stadio Bentegodi in the 1984/85 quarter-finals, a Karl-Heinz Rummenigge-inspired Inter miraculously recovered two weeks later at the San Siro to level the aggregate scores at 3-3 and force extra-time.

      Former Juventus favourite Franco Causio appeared to have made the tie safe moments after the restart only for Verona legend Preben Elkjaer to hit back immediately and put the Gialloblu back in the driving seat.

      Ironically, the final word would go to another ex-Bianconero Liam Brady, whose last-gasp strike for the hosts completed a job that seemed near impossible 118 minutes earlier. 


      There was yet more late cup drama to be found at the San Siro 19 years later as Juve and Inter took to the field in February 2004’s semi-final second-leg on level terms after a 2-2 draw at the Stadio delle Alpi eight days previously.

      Falling behind early on, Marcello Lippi’s men quickly rallied to force an equaliser on the stroke of half-time as Igor Tudor tapped home from no more than a yard out – moments before being replaced by Alessandro Del Piero due to injury - to set up a barnstorming second period.

      Bolstered further by the second-half introductions of Pavel Nedved and David Trezeguet, the Bianconeri’s increased offensive ambition would eventually yield what looked to be the tie’s decisive goal, Del Piero heading home 12 minutes from time to all but seal his team’s place in the final.

      The hosts, reduced to ten men after Ivan Cordoba’s dismissal however were not done there; pouncing first on Antonio Chimenti’s save from Emre Belozoglu, Daniele Adani poked into an empty net in the fifth minute of added time to ultimately send the game to penalties.

      Successful spot-kicks from Del Piero, Nedved, Enzo Maresca, Nicola Legrottaglie and Fabrizio Miccoli would break Inter hearts and bring an end to a pulsating 210 minutes of football. 


      With defensive colleagues Giorgio Chiellini, Patrice Evra – both absent for tonight’s tie – Stephan Lichtsteiner and Andrea Barzagli all spending time on the sidelines through injury so far this season and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon rested in favour of Neto in the Coppa Italia, there has been just one constant in the Bianconeri backline across all competitions this term.

      Leonardo Bonucci has featured in all 37 of his team’s matches this season, clocking up a total of 3,247 minutes out on the field, more than any other Juventus player, just edging out Paul Pogba (3,195).

      Consistency, calm and, as demonstrated by Sunday’s excellent volley, no small amount of class from the ex-Inter youngster. 

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