Coppa Italia Preview: Juventus and AC Milan Both Looking to Bounce Back

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Copa Italia
Juventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo kicks the ball during the Italian Serie A football match Hellas Verona vs Juventus on February 8, 2020 at the Marcantonio Bentegodi stadium in Verona. (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP) (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

The first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-finals between AC Milan and Juventus kicks off Thursday evening. The Rossoneri will have the home-field advantage, with the San Siro expected to be rocking. The Bianconeri won the last match-up, in the league, with a score of 1-0. However, Milan are since then a different team on paper. Either way, both teams will be coming off disappointing weekend losses.

Coppa Italia Preview: Juventus Versus Milan

Juventus

While struggling at times, Juventus are still in the midst of a strong season. They are in the Coppa Italia semi-finals after all and sit at second behind Inter in the league due to goal difference.

Cristiano Ronaldo is having another spectacular season. He has 20 goals in 20 matches in the league, just a goal shy of tying his total from all of last season. The goals have been flowing in 2020 too, however, so he’ll be looking to add onto that versus Milan. In addition, he also scored in his sole Coppa Italia appearance this season.

Matthijs de Ligt has improved from his early-season struggles, Gonzalo Higuain has been better under manager Maurizio Sarri, and Douglas Costa’s recent injury paves the way for more of Paulo Dybala. Giorgio Chiellini is back in training too, however, he is not likely to play in the semi-final.

It goes without saying that Juventus can never be overlooked. Expect solid football with minimal individual errors and possibly a herculean effort from Ronaldo.

Milan

The Rossoneri have been much improved since the comeback of Zlatan Ibrahimović. Not only has he brought senior leadership, but goals and offensive creativity as well. He’s the newfound leader of the team and the only player with a resume in the same dimension with that of Ronaldo. With only one goal in nine total appearances versus his former team, Ibrahimović should be looking to continue his solid run of form.

As for the defence, Milan have some decisions to make. Andrea Conti and Simon Kjær showed shakiness and mental lapses versus Inter Milan. It’s shaping up to be time to re-introduce Davide Calabria and Mateo Musacchio into the lineup.

Ismaël Bennacer will once again pull the strings in the midfield. The outlier, however, will be if Lucas Paqueta will earn more minutes. The Brazilian’s raw talent is evident, but he has yet to put it together. He has the ability to be the difference-maker. In a similar situation, Rafael Leão should take back his starting position. His chemistry with Ibrahimović is obvious, and he is hungry to succeed. A match at this stage might just be his next step.

Prediction: Juventus 2-2 Milan.

Both teams will be playing with something to prove after last weekend. Juventus are the better side, but Milan will be playing at home. The first leg should be even.

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