Coppa Italia: Milan vs Juventus Preview

Juventus will take on Milan in a midweek Coppa Italia away bout, where they will be looking to gain an edge in the first leg of an 180-minute contest that will be completed in three weeks, on March 4th. The Bianconeri fairly easily eliminated Sampdoria and Roma to get to the semi-finals. Their dominance in the domestic cup was interrupted last season, when they were knocked out early by Atalanta after taking home the trophy for four straight editions. A streak that allowed them to run away in the historical standings, as they were previously tied with Roma at nine. 

The Old Lady will be eager to bounce back following the loss against Verona, which erased their advantage over the competitors in the Serie A table. The Old Lady have lost in two consecutive road matches and have in general been unconvincing lately.

Douglas Costa got hurt in the last game and will miss two-to-three weeks: the absence of the lone pure winger in the roster will lead to a tactical chance, as the coach is set to go back to a 4-3-1-2 formation, with either Paulo Dybala or Aaron Ramsey in the hole. La Joya, who was used off the bench for two consecutive tilts, is set to get the nod either in that role or as second-striker.

Blaise Matuidi could be given an opportunity in the midfield after ceding the starting job to Adrien Rabiot, while Mattia De Sciglio could relieve Juan Cuadrado or Alex Sandro in one of the two fullback spots. Danilo has resumed practicing fully after a hamstring strain but he is unlikely to be in the starting XI. Another reserve possibly getting a shot is Daniele Rugani, who could play over of one of the two starting centre-backs. There is also a doubt on goal, as Gianluigi Buffon has started in previous Coppa Italia fixtures, but he is more likely to appear on Sunday to break the Serie A record for most appearances.

Juventus have been enjoying a stellar period of form from Cristiano Ronaldo, who has found the target in 11 straight matches in all competitions, however, they have often failed to provide him the necessary support, especially away. They have also manifested a glaring lack of energy in their approach versus Verona and Napoli, where the opponents have gotten off to much better starts and the Bianconeri were unusually content with sitting back and let the contest come to them, rather than tackle it with aggression. It backfired big-time in Naples, while it almost worked out against the Scaligeri, but two late mistakes did them in. Therefore, this will be another interesting test given that San Siro will be jam-packed and Milan have a lot riding on Coppa Italia.

Probable lineups: 

Milan: 4-4-2 Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Castillejo, Kessie, Bennacer, Calhanoglu; Ibrahimovic, Rebic.

Suspended: Conti.

Juventus: 4-3-1-2 Szczesny; Cuadrado,  De Ligt, Bonucci, De Sciglio; Bentancur, Pjanic, Matuidi; Ramsey; Dybala, Ronaldo.

Ruled out: Chiellini (knee), Bernardeschi (calf), Costa (hamstring).

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