Today might be technically the Coppa Italia quarterfinals, but this has the feeling of a very early-round kind of deal for Juventus. In a competition that is known for squad rotation and sometimes some funky matchups, tonight we get something in the quarterfinals that hasn’t been seen much at all lately.
The defending Serie A champions facing Serie B opposition ... in the quarterfinals.
Juventus and SPAL will play tonight for the right face Inter Milan — who had an absolute doozy in the quarterfinals against city rivals AC Milan 24 hours earlier — in the Coppa Italia semifinals, which get underway next week. Juventus, fresh off wins over Napoli in the Supercoppa and Bologna to wrap up the first half of the Serie A season, now look to advance to the semifinals of the competition that they haven’t won the last two seasons after racking up trophies in four straight years.
And to get to the semifinals, the opposition is a team sitting fifth in Serie B.
Now, you might not think that there’s a lot of difference between the top few teams in Serie B and the bottom handful of Serie A clubs. SPAL has, of course, spent time in Serie A recently; they were far and away the worst club in Italy’s top flight last season on their way to getting relegated with plenty of room to spare and finishing at the bottom of the table.
SPAL will come to Turin looking to extend this completely unexpected run their on, one that has already seen them beat Serie A squads Crotone — hey, remember them?! — and Sassuolo. While Juventus will rotate the squad pretty heavily knowing that they’ve got so many more pieces available than a couple of weeks ago, SPAL will field a full-strength squad without my hesitation.
Juventus’ goal in this game: not fall into the same trap Sassuolo did a couple of weeks ago.
And if Juve avoid any kind of upset that would derail the good work they’ve done of late, then they’ve got a couple more games with Inter to add to the schedule as a result.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021
Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy
Official kickoff time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy and across Europe; 7:45 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time; 11:45 a.m. Pacific Time
Juventus starting XI (3-5-2/4-4-2): Buffon; Demiral, de Ligt, Dragusin; Bernardeschi, Fagioli, Rabiot, Ramsey, Frabotta; Kulusevski, Morata
Juventus bench: Szczesny, Pinsoglio, Chiellini, Alex Sandro, Danilo, Cuadrado, Bonucci, Di Pardo, Arthur, McKennie, Chiesa, Da Graca
SPAL starting XI (3-4-2-1): Berisha; Ranieri, Vicari, Okoli; Dickmann, Esposito, Missiroli, Sernicola; Brignola, Seck; Floccari
HOW TO WATCH
Television: BT Sport ESPN (United Kingdom); RAI Uno
Online/mobile: ESPN+ (United States); DAZN (Canada); BTSport.com, BT Sport app (United Kingdom); RAI Play (Italy)
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