Juventus vs. AC Milan: Team news, stats and prediction – Coppa Italia

As a result of the postponement of this past weekend’s Serie A games, AC Milan and Juventus will most likely have a bit more energy in their legs, taking on each other in the Coppa Italia semi-final return leg. Considering what is at stake, it should be a very interesting game to watch. 

The first game between the two ended 1-1, as Cristiano Ronaldo scored a late equaliser for the Bianconeri at the San Siro. Quite surprisingly, the Rossoneri were on top for most of the game and really deserved more than a draw, but the away side’s perseverance punished them at the end.  Continue reading

AC Milan 1-1 Juventus: Ten-man Rossoneri concede late equaliser after VAR controversy

After taking the lead in the second half, Milan were heading towards an important result ahead of the return leg in March. However, instead, Juventus managed to find a way back into the game as Cristiano Ronaldo converted a penalty in the final minute of the ordinary time. 

For the Rossoneri, certainly, it’s a disappointing result after having defended so well in the second half, even with ten men. However, the performance goes to show that the first half against Inter wasn’t a fluke, which is a sign that the fans wanted to see from the team tonight. Continue reading

AC Milan vs. Juventus: Team news, stats and prediction – Coppa Italia

Following the disappointing loss against Inter in the derby, AC Milan will be looking to bounce back on Thursday evening as they take on Juventus in the Coppa Italia. It’s the first leg of the semi-finals, and given that they start at home, the Rossoneri need to get off to a good start. 

As mentioned, though, the derby loss will surely be in their heads. Stefano Pioli will have to work hard to keep their mind off it, as a good result against Juventus would help restore some of the confidence that they lost. Should they perform as they did in the first half against Inter, then a win is certainly possible tomorrow.  Continue reading

AC Milan 4-2 Torino: Calhanoglu brace sees Rossoneri through after extra-time

 

AC Milan managed to secure a spot in the Coppa Italia semi-finals this evening, beating Torino by four goals to two. However, the game required extra-time and once again the performance could have been better. 

Unlike many games this season, Milan looked good from the first minute and immediately showed the opponents their intentions for this game. Every time they advanced in attack, you could sense danger and it paid off early on for Stefano Pioli’s men.  Continue reading

Lazio face test of squad depth as fixtures, injuries and suspensions pile up

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Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi is currently undergoing one of his biggest tests of the season.

That may seem like an odd thing to read, given that his team have forgotten how to lose; last weekend’s victory over Napoli marked a club record 10th league win in a row.

In that time, they’ve ended a 30-year wait to beat AC Milan at San Siro in Serie A, a 16-year winless run at home to Juventus in the league and most recently a six-match losing run against Napoli.

It’s tempting to think Lazio can just plug in and play at the moment, that Inzaghi has little more to do than send his team out on the pitch with the instructions: “Same again, lads”.

But the coach’s skill in keeping this run going shouldn’t be underestimated – and his biggest challenge could be just around the corner.

Lazio aren’t blessed with a squad boasting enormous strength in depth, and the loss of one undisputed starter can have a big impact on the way they perform.

Inzaghi already lost his hugely influential midfield pair Lucas Leiva and Luis Alberto through suspension for the trip to Brescia at the start of the year, and their absence was felt as Lazio toiled before snatching another late win.

Captain Senad Lulic is suspended for Sampdoria’s visit on Saturday, while Francesco Acerbi and Stefan Radu will miss the following weekend’s Rome Derby if they pick up another booking.

Danilo Cataldi, who is also one yellow card away from suspension, has been ruled out for almost three weeks with an injury sustained during the midweek Coppa Italia win over Cremonese, while Joaquin Correa hasn’t recovered in time to face Samp and joins long-term absentees Adam Marusic and Jordan Lukaku in the stands.

With the injuries and suspensions piling up, much is being asked of few.

Saturday’s clash with Claudio Ranieri’s side will be the third game in a run of six matches in 15 days for the Biancocelesti, and another five are yet to come before 9 February.

The routine 4-0 win over Serie B opposition on Tuesday evening highlighted the lack of quality in depth that Inzaghi has available to him, regardless of the handsome scoreline.

Ciro Immobile, Acerbi and Luiz Felipe were all handed starting spots yet again, despite clearly being in a position where they would benefit from some rest.

The reserve players brought in to the Lazio XI from the bench included the likes of Bastos, Patric and Bobby Adekanye. They all performed well, but they are expected to be comfortable against this level of opposition.

Comparatively, some of the squad rotations rolled out by Inter and Juventus this week included bringing in Alexis Sanchez, Diego Godin, Valentino Lazaro, Gonzalo Higuain, Daniele Rugani and Federico Bernardeschi.

That, in a nutshell, is why any talk of Lazio competing for the Scudetto is premature.

Lazio’s strongest XI is the third-best in Serie A, but these players aren’t superhuman and they’ll be running on fumes or risking injury if they are made to continue at this frantic pace for much longer.

This is where Lazio’s early elimination from the Europa League may turn out to be a blessing in disguise; this busy stage of the season has tripped them up before, but now they have more time between league games to recover and work on details.

The question now is whether Claudio Lotito will choose to do something very uncharacteristic and open his chequebook during the January transfer window.

Lazio’s attack is threadbare in terms of options, and always has been. Immobile’s sensational form over the last three-and-a-half seasons has helped gloss over this fact, but the recent injury to Correa has highlighted the lack of options once again: Felipe Caicedo and Adekanye are the only other natural attackers in the squad.

Striker Lamin Jallow has been heavily linked with a move from Salernitana, Lotito’s other club, but how the 24-year-old will adapt to the demands of a Serie A Champions League race is a complete unknown.

Inzaghi is a fan of SPAL’s Alberto Paloschi, but he is another player who is unlikely to get fans off their seats in excitement.

Matias Vecino of Inter is perhaps the most interesting, high-profile player Lazio are considering for a mid-season move, but the signing would make little sense as it would only increase options in what is already the most competitive area of the squad, central midfield.

For now, this incredible wave of momentum should hopefully be enough to carry Lazio forward.

Inzaghi’s skill in the rotation and selection of his squad so far shouldn’t be underestimated, but the biggest test is yet to come.

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AC Milan 3-0 SPAL: Pioli’s men through to the quarter-finals with ease

AC Milan managed to follow up the win against Cagliari last weekend with yet another one this evening, beating SPAL with ease at the San Siro. Certainly, it was an encouraging performance by Pioli’s men, who now will face Torino ht quarter-finals of Coppa Italia. 

The Rossoneri started the game very well, immediately showing the away side their intentions for the evening. However, at least initially, SPAL managed to get past the Milan players despite the high line they faced. Pioli’s response? He ordered his players to push even further.  Continue reading

AC Milan vs. SPAL: Team news, stats and prediction

AC Milan managed to claim all three points (finally) away at Cagliari this weekend, scoring their first goal in three games. Certainly, the performance was an encouraging sign of what’s to come, should Stefano Pioli’s men be able to build on the display. 

As you would expect, Ibrahimovic was crucial for the Rossoneri, inspiring his new teammates. In addition to the Swede, Pioli also dared to switch things up with a new formation (the 4-4-2) and a few changes. For example, after the horrible outing against Sampdoria, he benched Suso in favour of Castillejo. Continue reading

Unpredictable Bastos provides timely reminder of improvement at Lazio

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The last week has served as a neat summary of the highs and lows of Bastos’ time at Lazio.

Last Wednesday in the Coppa Italia final against Atalanta, the Angolan was entrusted with a starting spot ahead of the experienced Stefan Radu after playing a key role in the capital club’s cup run.

In the space of 36 minutes, the centre-back was booked for a reckless tackle, enraged the Bergamo club with a potential handball inside the box that was missed by match officials, and was substituted for Radu as coach Simone Inzaghi lost faith in the 28-year-old’s ability to avoid a second yellow card. Continue reading

Lazio must dust off chequebook to ward off Juventus interest in Simone Inzaghi

Simone Inzaghi

As the haze from the post-Coppa Italia celebrations begins to clear, some images are stronger than others.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic rising higher than anyone to head in the opener. Joaquin Correa bursting through the Atalanta defence to seal Lazio’s seventh win in the competition.

And Simone Inzaghi being lifted on the shoulders of his players after masterminding the 2-0 victory from the touchline.

It was the crowning achievement of Inzaghi’s tenure in charge of the Roman club and one that silenced the critics, who had started to emerge after an inconsistent season in which he failed to achieve the objective of Champions League qualification. Continue reading

Five points for Lazio to take from defeat in Coppa Italia final dress rehearsal

Ciro Immobile

The biggest game of Lazio’s season is now less than a week away and, after last weekend’s 3-1 defeat to Atalanta, they could be playing for more than just silverware.

The Serie A loss came at a cost, leaving the Roman club all-but out of the top four race but also in danger of missing out on a European spot altogether as they lie in eighth place.

Lifting the Coppa Italia trophy in the final next Wednesday night would not only restore a feel-good factor to a largely underwhelming campaign for the Roman club, but ensure them of a place in next season’s Europa League.

Facing their fellow finalists in the same venue just 10 days before the main event provided a rare and valuable opportunity to scout out potential strengths and weaknesses – so what lessons can Simone Inzaghi and his team learn from it? Continue reading