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Coppa Italia Preview: Inter - Juventus

Kick-Off: Thursday, January 28, 2010, 21:00 CET.
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan.
Gunning For Revenge


In early December, reigning Italian champions and current league leaders Inter were defeated 2-1 by Juventus in Turin in Serie A and this flared up hopes of a Scudetto race involving the Bianconeri at the time. Since then, though, things have changed as Juve have fallen four points off a Champions League spot whilst Inter have gone nine points clear at the top.

Jose Mourinho's side brushed aside city rivals and closest challengers for the Serie A title, Milan, 2-0 at the weekend despite ending the game with just nine men on the pitch. It stretched the Nerazzurri's lead at the top of the table to a healthy and, according to many, unassailable nine-point lead, although the Rossoneri have a game in hand.

Although Inter's concentration will now be focused on the Champions League with Chelsea coming up in the last 16, they will still aim to progress to the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia and keep alive their hopes of a treble. Moreover, the temptation to hammer another nail in Juventus' and Ciro Ferrara's coffins and avenge their league defeat will be too hard to resist for a rampant Inter side.

Clinging Onto The Spars

Juventus' season started with promise but the wheels have come off of late. The 2-1 home defeat to Roma in Serie A at the weekend forced the Bianconeri to slip from fifth to sixth in the Serie A standings. Ciro Ferrara's side are already out of the Champions League, and a defeat to Inter in the Coppa Italia on Thursday could seriously compel the Juve board to do away with the club legend.

The Juventus players have under-performed for most of the season, and Ferrara's inability to find the best system to suit his players has contributed to the Bianconeri's downfall. It is a surprise to many that the 42-year-old is still in charge of the Juve ship, but there are reports suggesting that a defeat on Thursday will end the reign of Ferrara at Juve.

Nevertheless, the Juventus players should take heart from the fact that they have defeated this strong Inter unit earlier in the season and will be hoping that lightning can strike twice.


FORM GUIDE


Inter

January 24 v Milan (H) - WON 2-0 (Serie A)

January 16 v Bari (A) - DREW 2-2 (Serie A)

January 9 v Siena (H) - WON 4-3 (Serie A)

January 6 v Chievo (A) - WON 1-0 (Serie A)

December 20 v Lazio (H) - WON 1-0 (Serie A)


Juventus

January 23 v Roma (H) - LOST 2-1 (Serie A)

January 17 v Chievo (A) - LOST 1-0 (Serie A)

January 13 v Napoli (H) - WON 3-0 (Coppa Italia)

January 10 v Milan (H) - LOST 3-0 (Serie A)

January 6 v Parma (A) - WON 2-1 (Serie A)


TEAM NEWS

Inter

Rene Khrin and Cristian Chivu are both out of Thursday's tie whilst Dejan Stankovic is likely to join them on the sidelines as he too is suffering from injury. Both Lucio and Wesley Sneijder, who were sent off against Milan on Sunday night, are suspended for next weekend's league fixture, but will both feature against Juventus. Goran Pandev and Diego Milito should be the two strikers up front.

Probable Line-up (4-3-1-2): Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Santon; Zanetti, Cambiasso, Muntari; Sneijder; Pandev, Milito

Juventus

Vincenzo Iaquinta, Martin Caceres, David Trezeguet, Sebastian Giovinco, Christian Poulsen, Luca Marrone, Claudio Marchisio and Hasan Salihamidzic have all been ruled out of the trip to the San Siro on Thursday while Zdenek Grygera, Nicola Legrottaglie, Mauro Camoranesi, Momo Sissoko and Diego are reportedly struggling for fitness. Nevertheless, Alessandro Del Piero and Amauri are likely to be the two strikers up front while Gianluigi Buffon and Fabio Grosso, who will miss the weekend fixture against Lazio because of suspension, will start.

Probable Line-up (4-3-1-2): Buffon, Grygera, Cannavaro, Chiellini, Grosso; Sissoko, Candreva, Felipe Melo; Diego; Del Piero, Amauri


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Diego Milito (Inter)

The Argentine international striker has been in terrific form since joining Inter from Genoa in the summer and has 13 goals and three assists to his name so far in the league this season. He scored the Nerazzurri's first goal against Milan on Sunday night and he would be eager to score in the Coppa Italia as well.

Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus)

The Italy and Juventus legend scored a wonder goal against Roma on Saturday but still failed to lead his side to three points. Del Piero has been used sparingly so far this campaign by coach Ciro Ferrara, but it would be hard for him to leave out the 35-year-old against Inter. Del Piero is an inspiraion for Juve and his presence would hugely boost the confidece of the beleaguered Bianconeri players.


PREDICTION

Juventus won't be easy pushovers and they will remember that they defeated Inter in the league. However, the Nerazzurri are in rampant form at the moment and a defeat looks very unlikely.

Inter 3-1 Juventus


In Other Coppa Italia Ties.....

Fiorentina 3-2 Lazio

Fiorentina defeated Lazio 3-2 at the Artemio Franchi last Wednesday to book their place in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia. Two goals from Adrian Mutu had put them 2-0 up at the break but Mauro Zarate reduced the deficit five minutes into the second half. However, the Viola restored their two-goal cushion on the hour mark when Per Kroldrup netted, and although Tommaso Rocchi made it 3-2 in the 67th minute, the hosts held on.

Roma 1-0 Catania

Roma defeated Catania 1-0 at the Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday to progress through to the last four of the Coppa Italia. Daniele De Rossi scored the only goal of the game on 74 minutes although, by that time, Catania had had Giuseppe Bellusci and Blazej Augustyn sent off.

Milan 0-1 Udinese

Italian giants Milan crashed out of the Coppa Italia on January 27 as they were defeated 1-0 by Udinese at the Giuseppe Meazza. A 56th minute goal from Gokhan Inler was enough for the Udine-based side to book their place in the semi-finals of the Italian Cup and to extinguish the Rossoneri's unlikely treble challenge.