If you thought things were easy to figure in terms of what Juventus needed to do to advance to the next round of the Europa League the last few times they’ve faced a decisive second leg of a two-legged tie, then you’re going to love how simply things are in the Coppa Italia semifinals.
There’s just one option for Max Allegri’s squad if they want the chance to make it to the Coppa Italia final next month.
That would be: just win, fellas.
The situation is simple. The execution may not be knowing that Juventus are even with Inter 1-1 after the first leg in Turin three weeks ago and everything that came along with it. Now the tie shifts over to the San Siro and maybe the most hostile atmosphere Juventus still has left on its schedule. It’s the same site where one of Juventus’ best wins of the season — which, a lot like what they’re about to see Wednesday night, will come after a brutal stretch of games that has tested their physical and mental stamina. (And that’s even without all of the stuff going on off the field that is certainly taxing mentally no matter how you slice it.)
The thing about this second leg of the Coppa Italia semifinals is that it features two teams that have probably played better on the whole in these type of knockout fixtures rather than over the course of the last month or two in Serie A.
With last Thursday’s 1-1 draw against Sporting, Juventus advanced to the Europa League semifinals, making their first European semifinal since the run to the 2017 Champions League final. Inter, meanwhile, is one half of the Derby della Madonnina in the Champions League semifinals, ensuring that there will be one Italian finalist.
Inter has most definitely been a better cup team than in Serie A over the last couple of months. And with their advancement to the Europa League semifinals, that same argument can be made about Juventus knowing that they’ve lost three straight and four of their last six league fixtures.
The first leg was very much Juve looking like they were on their way to a classic, get-a-goal-and-defend kind of win only before Bremer’s last-minute handball led to Romelu Lukaku’s penalty to even the score and send this thing to Milan with a whole lot more up in the air compared to how things were looking.
Juve are coming off another league loss, this time at the hands of champions-elect Napoli at the Allianz Stadium, but it’s not like their overall performance was all that bad. It was certainly not as bad as we’ve seen during other losses over the last month or so, but it’s the second big-time matchup in a three-game stretch of them in which Allegri’s squad has expended a whole lot of energy. Allegri did rotate his squad on Sunday night, which should be helpful, but it will be definitely something to keep an eye on as the night goes on.
Who knows just how much a win is the only way through to the Coppa Italia final — which will likely be against Fiorentina — will impact the way in which Allegri wants to play this. Same goes for the fact that he will likely have to get a little creative with his starters in attack knowing that two of his No. 9s are injured.
Not exactly the kind of development you want to see happen entering a game in which you know damn well you’re going to have to score at least one and potentially more than that.
Ah, this month of April just continues to be the gift that keeps on giving, huh.
- Dusan Vlahovic will miss out on Wednesday night’s game due to a sprained ankle he picked up in training on Tuesday. The injury is, according to Goal Italia’s Romeo Agresti, not all that serious and Juve are expecting Vlahovic to be back in training in a few days.
- Juan Cuadrado is suspended, serving the first game of his three-game ban in the Coppa Italia after his involvement in the late-game fisticuffs involving Romelu Lukaku.
- Moise Kean is still out injured.
- Mattia Perin, per usual in the Coppa, will start in goal.
- Allegri suggested that Arek Milik could start on the bench after playing a heavy amount of minutes in recent weeks. That will be a decision made Wednesday morning.
- Bremer will be back in the starting lineup after having to be subbed out late against Sporting and then being an unused sub over the weekend in the loss to Napoli.
JUVENTUS PLAYER(S) TO WATCH
The last time Juventus will play Inter until at least the fall of 2023 calls for shaking things up a little bit. And because Juve will be lacking in No. 9s at the San Siro, the rumor mill is spinning like crazy about what the front line will be looking like.
Let’s just say it involves these two guys ...
With Vlahovic and Kean injured and Allegri floating the idea of Milik starting the game on the bench, that pretty much leaves Juve’s manager with one other option — Angel Di Maria and Federico Chiesa being paired up in some sort of way to try and make things happen.
We know they can do that if it’s in a trident or something along those lines. But something we haven’t seen so far this season is just Di Maria and Chiesa up front by themselves.
The fact that Juve will try and hit Inter on the counter is a given. That’s how Allegri always wants to play — and it’s likely even more of the case when there’s no No. 9 as a reference point up top if Milik does indeed start from the bench. The problem is that we’ve seen Vlahovic, Milik and Kean all be extremely isolated for large stretches of time this season because of the defense-first mindset that Allegri has. So what if that happens with Di Maria and Chiesa? Well, that wouldn’t really be good now, would it.
They’re two very creative players. That’s nothing to tell us ottherwise.
But can they work as an attacking tandem in a game in which playing for a trophy this season is on the line? That’s something that seems more and more of a thing we’re about to find out about.
When: Wednesday, April 25, 2023.
Where: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 9 p.m. local time in Italy and around Europe, 8 p.m. in the United Kingdom, 3 p.m. Eastern time, 12 p.m. Pacific time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: Viaplay Sports 1 (United Kingdom); Canale 5 (Italy).
Online/Streaming: Paramount+ (United States); fuboTV Canada (Canada); Viaplay UK (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.