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Coppa Italia Preview: Juventus vs. Parma — Marching toward the semifinal?

Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

You know what's fun? Looking back at what Juventus did the first time they played Parma this season. So, if you don't mind, I'd like to take it back a couple of months and play some rather wonderful highlights just to ring a couple of bells. Without further adieu, it's off to the YouTube!

How Claudio Zuliani made it out of that game with the semblance of a voice still around might be considered a minor miracle when you think about how many goals Juventus dropped on Parma back on Nov. 9.

I bring this up because tomorrow night it's Juventus-Parma Round 2. Maybe not what you're thinking, though. it's not the return fixture in Serie A. This is Coppa Italia action, which means Juventus and Parma are playing for a spot in the tournament's semifinals. So as Parma look for any kind of hope that they can turn their disastrous season into anything worthwhile against the country's best.

Yeah, not exactly the right kind of opponent to be going against.

For Juventus, though, they couldn't have drawn it up any better.

First, the steamroll Hellas Verona after jumping into the Coppa Italia in the round of 16. Now, they get matched up against Parma, which has won all of two games — one in Serie A, one in the Coppa — since thrashing at Juventus Stadium a few months ago.

Now, of course, it's about taking care of business against a team that is no match on paper once more.

That's even when you consider the large chunk of squad rotation that will likely to happen. Or the fact that unlike the Coppa tie against Hellas a few weeks ago, this one is being played away from Juventus Stadium.

Either way, the objective is the still the same — notch another win and move forward into the semis.


1. Squad rotation. Because of course.

As always is the case, having squad rotation in the Coppa Italia — especially in the earlier stages for Juventus — is always going to take place. It's expected to be no different against Parma. Carlos Tévez isn't even included in the 21-man squad for the trip to the Tardini. Who else will be held out of the starting lineup come Wednesday night is still Allegri's knowledge and Allegri's knowledge only, so we're left here to wait and see what truly happens. If there's a Simone or two in the starting lineup, it wouldn't be all that surprising. If the defense and the starting strike partnership looks completely different than it did over the weekend against Chievo, that wouldn't be any kind of surprise, either. The Coppa Italia is what it is, people — part quest to win another trophy, another part to give some of your reserves playing time.

2. Kingsley Coman's impact.

Let me just say it right now: If Kingsley Coman doesn't play from the start, I will be very angry. Like, turning-as-green-as-Hulk levels kind of angry. And I'm sure I won't be the only person who would feel that way. This is the perfect opportunity — and the right kind of opponent — where it's not a super high-pressure moment to get the kid some playing time.

Max is such a tease with his quotes sometimes.

At this point, all of us around here pretty much know that Coman has done enough to deserve the chance to get a start or two. He hasn't played much lately, but he's impressed. So what is there holding him back? I don't know, maybe it's just Allegri's preference to not completely throw him to the wolves. Yet at the same time, Juventus are playing Parma on Wednesday night, not a European heavyweight. There's no Tévez in the squad, there's bound to be squad rotation, so let's see Coman get more than just 15-20 minutes off the bench, Max.

3. Will any of the main midfield three get a rest?

Amongst the other Allegri quotes worth noting at his pre-match press conference, there was the one that said Paul Pogba may or may not play from the start against Parma. Because we need to as much in the dark about it as Parma does, right? Exactly. But with Andrea Pirlo back in the traveling squad, Allegri has one more option to choose from than he did in the win over Chievo on Sunday. Will this mean anything? Well, considering he's coming off a bout with the flu, who knows how many minutes Pirlo has in his legs at this time. But the main thing, as is the desire with a lot of the Coppa Italia games, is to have the ability to rest your stars. Or maybe the way Pogba is playing these days — scoring goals every damn time he steps on the field and breaking the ankles of opposing defenders at will — will convince Mad Max to keep the 21-year-old Frenchman in the starting lineup.

4. Putting Parma away early.

Take away the seven goals Juventus dumped on Parma nearly three months ago and they still have one of the worst defenses in all of Serie A. And let's face it: Ever since Juventus recorded that 7-0 win over Roberto Donadoni's squad in early November, it isn't like Parma's season has gotten any better. They're sitting dead last in the league table for a reason — they're not very good. At all. Like I said, you couldn't have drawn up Juve's path to the semifinals of the Coppa Italia any better unless these two games were being played against clubs from Serie B. So much like the game back in November, you have to think that if Juve grab a couple of first-half goals, Parma will basically slump their shoulders and let reality sink in.

My starting XI (4-3-3): Storari; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Ogbonna, Padoin; Pereyra, Marchisio, Pogba; Giovinco, Morata, Coman

Yeah, I went there, people.