There’s nothing like a final to get the blood pressure shooting up.
Nothing to get it going even more than a final against your most hated rival.
That’s what we’ll see on Wednesday evening, when Juventus and Inter Milan match up against each other in what is certain to be a heated match, with both teams having serious desire to bring the trophy home.
Inter, who came into the season as favorites to defend their title (barf) only to stumble midseason and put their crosstown rivals in the driver’s seat for the scudetto, will be looking for a piece of silverware to either win a double or salvage their season depending on whether AC Milan can hold on to their lead in the league. Juve, on the other hand, are looking to defend their Coppa title and give some meaning to a season that was lost by October, and avoid their first trophyless campaign since the 2010-11 season under Luigi Del Neri.
The fixture set for Wednesday is actually a surprisingly rare one to see. In spite of all their success in Italian football generally and the Coppa in particular — the two teams have 21 titles and 33 finals appearances between them — this will only be the third time Juventus and Inter have ever met in the final. The other two games were both won by Juve: 4-1 in 1958-59 and 1-0 in 1964-65. Suffice to say, that history won’t have much bearing on this match at all.
The Old Lady will be hoping that recent has zero bearing on this match, as they come into the game on the schneid against their hated rivals. They’ve played three times this year, to the tune of two losses and a draw, although the margin between the two sides is relatively small. Inter won their last match 1-0 on a dodgy penalty call (as well as several VERY dodgy no-calls at the other end), and in the Supercoppa Italiana in January only avoided a penalty shootout when Alex Sandro made an almighty howler in the literal last second of the match. Even in their first meeting at San Siro, Inter were the better team but unable to put Juve away, allowing them to steal a point with a late penalty.
Inter are coming in as the favorites, that much is certain. But they were heavily favored in last year’s semifinal after they hammered Juve 2-0 in their first meeting of the year and Juve pulled out a 2-1 aggregate win. Atalanta came into last year’s final as the favorites and Juve ended up playing what might’ve been their best game of the season to claim their 14th title. There is very much a path to victory here for Juventus, although they’ll have to play almost as perfectly as they did last year in order to do it, barring any kind of Pazza Inter implosion that gifts them the title.
- The squad for Wednesday night’s game:
- In his pre-match press conference, Massimiliano Allegri confirmed that Giorgio Chiellini and Paulo Dybala will start. As usual, No. 2 keeper Mattia Perin will have the gloves for the match.
- Allegri was asked whether Juve will play in a three- or a four-man defense, but was noncommittal in his response.
- Manuel Locatelli returns to the squad for the first time since injuring his MCL the last time these two teams met in April. It’s unlikely that he would start, but he’s certainly an interesting piece to have on the bench for later in the game.
- Two fullbacks who weren’t in the squad on Friday in Genoa are also back on the list. Danilo was rested for that game, while Luca Pellegrini has recovered from a slight injury.
- Fabio Miretti is in the squad after impressive performances in the last two league games. It remains to be seen if Allegri would trust him with any minutes in a final, but who knows what his play the last two weeks has earned him?
- There are two more U23 players in the squad: regular participant Marley Ake and a surprise inclusion in Hans Nicolussi Caviglia. Nicolussi Caviglia has spent most of the last two seasons dealing with a serious knee injury, but has played the last two games for the U23 in the Serie C promotion playoff and was rewarded for a good performance with a call-up.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
It has to be this, right?
Tomorrow will be Paulo Dybala’s last meaningful game as a Juve player. In one of those twists that always happens in sports, it will come against the team he has been most heavily linked to on the free agent market since his departure was made official.
It’s impossible to know what’s going through Dybala’s mind right now, but we’ll probably get some sense of it early on in the match. He’s always been a player who wears his emotions on his sleeve. His confidence and motivation are easily measured just by looking at him. Will he be going through the motions, wary of sticking it to a potential future employer? Or does he desire one last moment of glory in the shirt that he’s served so faithfully for the last seven years, one last celebration with the fans who still salute him at every turn in spite of his prolonged contract saga?
We’ll see just what his mindset is on Wednesday. He’s certainly going to garner some major attention—in April it looked as though Simone Inzaghi had detailed Alessandro Bastoni to man-mark him for much of the game, and the center-back often dropped deep to follow him. Bastoni is facing a fitness test after missing several weeks with a muscle injury, but whether it’s him or someone else in the Inter back three, it’s likely that Dybala will get the same treatment. Whether he can shrug that off and make an impact will go a long way toward deciding this game.
When: Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
Where: Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 9 p.m. local time in Italy and Europe, 8 p.m. in the United Kingdom, 3 p.m. Eastern time, 12 p.m. Pacific time
HOW TO WATCH
Television: CBS Sports Network (United States); Premier Sports 1 (United Kingdom); Canale 5 (Italy).
Online/mobile: Paramount+ (United States); Premier Player HD (United Kingdom); Mediaset Infinity (Italy).
Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, you can also follow along with us live and all the stupid things we say on Twitter. If you haven’t already, join the community on Black & White & Read All Over, and join in the discussion below.