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Coppa Italia: Big Stars Aim for a Huge Prize

AC Milan vs Juventus

Thursday night’s big game, Coppa Italia: AC Milan vs Juventus, is box office stuff, with two of the biggest stars in the world potentially coming face to face.

Cristiano Ronaldo is in his second season at Juventus with one Scudetto already under his belt, and he shows no sign of slowing down. And who should arrive at the San Siro on New Years’ Day? The one and only Zlatan Ibrahimovic, for his second stint at AC Milan, and the big Swede has started pretty impressively too.

This has all the makings of a cracking game. Both teams arrive at the San Siro on the back of a defeat, painful for each, but in different ways. Juventus’ loss against Hellas Verona allowed their Scudetto rivals to take advantage, while I Rossoneri’s loss in the Milan derby, after leading 0-2, was heartbreaking for their faithful.

 

Talking Points

Zlatan the man for Milan

Has there ever been a bigger character in European football than Zlatan Ibrahimovic? After beginning his glittering career in his home country at Malmo, he has since graced the best teams on the continent, starring at Ajax, Juventus, Barcelona, both Milan clubs, Paris Saint- Germain and Manchester United.

Then he took a short break in the USA, where he scored 52 goals in 56 appearances for LA Galaxy!

At 38 his enthusiasm shows no sign of waning. He signed for his second stint at Milan on 2nd January after passing his medical with flying colours and has agreed a six month deal with the option of a one-season extension.

Zlatan needs to lift his team. I Rossoneri might come into this game somewhat shell-shocked after a stunning Milan derby loss at the weekend. It was all going so well at the break after Ante Rebic and Ibrahimovic himself had put Milan firmly in charge. But Inter were irresistible after the break and Milan’s defence folded under the pressure, conceding four second-half strikes.

Ibra was also on target in the Coppa quarter-final win over Torino. He made it 4-2 deep into extra time after Turkish midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu’s brace had brought Milan back into the game when they were trailing in normal injury time.

AC Milan will rely heavily on Hakan Calhanoglu in the Coppa Italia semi-finals
                                                         Hakan Calhanoglu celebrates after scoring a goal for AC Milan against Torino

 

The Old Lady is under attack

A shock defeat away to Hellas Verona has put Juventus’ title aspirations under some pressure, with one point separating the top three sides. Inter’s derby win handed them top spot on goal difference while Lazio, just a point further back, have gone 18 Serie A games unbeaten for the first time in the Rome club’s history.

While Inter and Lazio are having the season of their lives the Old Lady is well accustomed to winning and seeks a ninth successive Scudetto. Ronaldo is hitting form at the right time, of course, and he netted in his 10th successive league game against Verona.

Juve had a comfortable passage through to the Coppa semi-final, coasting past Roma 3-1 while keeper Gigi Buffon was unlucky to concede an own goal. It could still easily be another spectacular season for the Turin giants. 

 

History

The Old Lady has seen the better of the Milan vs Juventus results and in recent years has been totally dominant. Of the 68 meetings between Milan and Juve (since 1993), I Bianconeri have won 35 to Milan’s 19 and there have been 14 draws.

Juve are unbeaten in the last nine and have won the last six games against I Rossoneri, but there is a chink of light for the hosts in that their visitors have already been beaten three times on the road this season.

Both teams arrive at the San Siro with four wins from six, but only one victory in the last three. And Milan’s very recent form is less worrying, in that they suffered the dramatic derby loss on the back of an away draw with Verona, whilst Juventus lost to both Verona and an out-of-sorts Napoli.

 

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