17.05.2017 11:00 - in: Coppa Italia S

      Coppa Italia final preview

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      Juventus and Lazio face off in the Coppa Italia final for the second time in three years. Can Juve lift the trophy for the third time in a row?
      The background

      Juventus are set to line up in a joint-record 17th Coppa Italia final on Wednesday night, looking to do what no side in Italian history has done before and win the trophy for the third time in a row.

      Standing in their way are six-time champions Lazio, a side with which the Bianconeri have exchanged final defeats in the past 15 years, losing out to the capital club in 2004 before tasting cup success for the first time in 20 years in 2015. 

      Alessandro Matri's extra-time winner saw Juve lift the trophy at Lazio's expense in 2015

      Already champions of Italy for a 33rd time, Massimiliano Allegri’s all-conquering Juventus headed to Rome that year with one eye on a history-making 10th Coppa Italia crown and the other on a possible treble with a Champions League final against Barcelona to follow a couple of weeks later.

      After falling behind early on, goals from Giorgio Chiellini – the defender crashing home superbly on the turn from Patrice Evra’s knockdown – and Alessandro Matri in extra-time ensured that the trophy would be adorned with black and white ribbons.

      This time, Juve remain hot favourites to complete part one of a third consecutive domestic double at the Stadio Olimpico even though both sides enter the showpiece event on even footing in past encounters in the cup, winning eight times apiece. 

      Since the 2011/12 campaign, the Old Lady last just one of her last 18 matches in all competitions against the Biancocelesti, two of which came back-to-back in domestic cup finals in Rome and Shanghai respectively. 

      Paulo Dybala scores on his Juventus debut to seal the 2015/16 Super Cup in Shanghai

      Defeat to Roma in the league at the weekend sent the Serie A title race to the penultimate weekend of the season but the Bianconeri will be no mood to lose two games in the same stadium in the space of four days. 

      The road to rome

      Juventus have beaten Atalanta, Milan and Napoli on the road to Rome, with their progress in all three rounds characteristed by quick starts and building early leads.

      The first step of the trophy defence began at Juventus Stadium against Atalanta.

      Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic combined brilliantly for each other’s goals to put the Bianconeri 2-0 up at the interval and that’s the way it looked the match would finish until a hectic nine-minute period towards the end saw Abdoulay Konko and Emmanuel Latte Lath twice reduce the deficit either side of Miralem Pjanic’s 75th-minute penalty.

      In the following round at home to the Rossoneri, Dybala’s sharp, right-footed drive and Pjanic’s pinpoint free-kick put Juve two goals to the good and in control after just 21 minutes.

      Carlos Bacca pulled one back for the visitors after the break, but the hosts had too much for ten-man Milan, who saw Manuel Locatelli receive his marching orders moments after Bacca’s strike.

      The visit of Napoli in the semi-finals looked to spell trouble as Jose Callejon put the Partenopei a goal to the good only for one of Juve’s second-half showings of the season to turn the tie on its head.

      Roaring back in style, Allegri’s men powered through after the break, overwhelming the away side with three goals in the space of 22 minutes courtesy of two Paulo Dybala penalties and a Gonzalo Higuain tap-in after a mistake by Pepe Reina.

      Higuain repeated the trick in the return leg, netting two clinical finishes from Gonzalo Higuain in either half on a frantic affair at the Stadio San Paolo.

      Juve’s number 9 looked to have twice killed off any hope of an Azzurri comeback to put Juve first 4-1 and then 5-2 up on aggregate either side of a Marek Hamsik equaliser only for Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne to reduce the aggregate deficit in a breathless opening to the second period. A 3-2 defeat on the night was enough to book a place in Rome. 

      Lazio began their Coppa Italia campaign in January in spectacular fashion with a 4-2 win over Genoa. Strikes from Filip Djordjevic and Wesley Hoedt put the Romans in control only for Mauricio Pinilla and Goran Pandev to level the scores before the break.

      Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Immobile were the heroes of the second period – a recurring theme in Lazio’s run to the final – the pair netting within five minutes of each other to set up a quarter-final meeting with Inter.

      An equally impressive performance would follow at the San Siro as Filipe Anderson and Lucas Biglia efforts were enough to brush aside the Nerazzurri in spite of a late consolation strike from Marcelo Brovozic six minutes from time. 

      The best however was still yet to come. A Rome derby awaited Lazio in the semi-finals and Inzaghi’s men made light work of their cross-city rivals over the two legs producing two fine performances to reach the final.

      Milinkovic-Savic and Immobile struck in both legs as Inzaghi’s men followed up a 2-0 victory with a narrow 3-2 defeat in a return fixture in which their place in Wednesday’s showdown was rarely in doubt having led twice.


      The form book

      Both of Juventus’ last two Coppa Italia finals were low-scoring affairs but the recent form of both sides in attack – particularly Lazio – of late may well break that trend.

      A staggering 31 goals have been scored in the past five games involving Simone Inzaghi’s side in a run which has included 6-2 and 7-3 wins over Palermo and Sampdoria respectively with a 3-1 derby success over city rivals Roma wedged in between. 

      Lazio's Ciro Immobile has scored 25 goals in all competitions this season

      Eleven of those strikes have born the mark of either Keita Baldé Diao (seven) or Ciro Immobile (four), the latter topping the club’s scoring charts with 25 goals in all competitions so far.

      With fourth place all but guaranteed in Serie A, Inzaghi took the opportunity to rest a host of first team players in the weekend’s 3-2 loss to Fiorentina with key men Jordan Lukaku and Stefano Parolo facing uphill struggles to be fit in time for Wednesday night.

      Two points from a possible nine for Juve meanwhile has seen their advantage over Roma cut in half in recent weeks but ought not to change the direction of the Scudetto title. 

      A much-changed Juve side lined up against Roma in Serie A on Sunday

      Like his counterpart Inzaghi, Massimiliano Allegri decided to save the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Dani Alves, Giorgio Chiellini, Alex Sandro and Claudio Marchisio for the final as a much-changed Bianconeri team began strongly against Roma only to fade badly in the second period.

      Two wins in the coming week would make it three league and cup doubles in a row.


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