Juventus and AC Milan carry contrasting agendas heading into the Wednesday night’s Coppa Italia final at Stadio Olimpico.
Season Decider for AC Milan
Having all but confirmed their 34th Serie A title last weekend, Bianconeri are keen to make a push for the domestic double. Such a feat would come as a huge morale boost after the disappointing Champions League elimination and a perfect send-off for the legendary captain Gianluigi Buffon.
The experienced Old Lady cruised through the competition thus far, winning all four Coppa Italia matches without even conceding a single goal. A clash against youthful, inexperienced and a rather inconsistent AC Milan side is supposed to be nothing more than a formality.
On the other end, Rossoneri are preparing for the biggest match of their season.
The preseason spending spree raised an eyebrow at UEFA and with probable punishment for financial fair play violations hanging over their head, AC Milan will play the Coppa Italia final to save their entire season.
The challenge ahead of Gennaro Gattuso is great.
Stopping Juventus from clinching their fourth successive Cup title is a test itself. The five-time Italian Cup champions, AC Milan will be keen to win their first Coppa Italia title since 2003 and – quite symbolically – the man who was integral part of the trophy-winning squad, Gennaro Gattuso, will once again have a huge role to play.
His ability was question, lack of managerial experience highlighted as the biggest downside of his appointment as new AC Milan boss in November but the Rossoneri loyal servant Gennaro Gattuso once again gave everything he had to help his team.
The temperamental tactician made a big impact since his arrival.
AC Milan purchased an entire squad’s worth of new players and were widely expected to stand in front of Juventus on their road to Scudetto. Dubbed their biggest Serie A title challengers in preseason, AC Milan suffered a combined 5-1 defeat at the hands of Juventus in both league meetings this year.
Inability to harness the undoubted individual potential and quality and put it in team’s use was the thing that bothered AC Milan the most and that’s where Gattuso’s never-dying fighting spirit came to play to help players change their mindset and adopt a warrior-like mentality.
The Rossoneri manager himself thinks of the crunch clash against Juventus as ‘the most important’ in his coaching career.
An experienced football icon is well aware that a win against Juventus could mark the beginning of a new era at Rossoneri who are desperate to recapture their former glory.
“This is like the World Cup for our enthusiasm, the enthusiasm of the fans and their desire to get back to lifting a trophy again. “This is the most important match of my coaching career. There have been a few disappointments, but we hope this one can be satisfying,” Gattuso told reporters on Tuesday.
A European Chance
Atalanta are breathing down AC Milan’s necks with only a single point behind sixth-placed Rossoneri and Gattuso is well-aware that clash against Juventus is the first – and also the best – way to secure a place in Europe next year.
The fiery manager did more than enough to lift AC Milan into European contention in the Serie A but will now be looking to grab the European ticket elsewhere. His team are given 15/4 betting odds to beat Juventus on Wednesday but it will be anything other than a straightforward task.
AC Milan lost four of their five trips to sides above them in the standings this season and look an extremely vulnerable side on the road this year. Gattuso has questioned his team’s mentality on a number of occasions this term, but is now certain his players will do everything they have to overcome the travel sickness.
“I didn’t need to fire up the lads as it’s the kind of match that fires you up anyway.”, he said.
Will AC Milan be able to stun Juventus and win their first Coppa Italia trophy since 2003 and only their second since 2011?
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