Juventus play Lazio on Wednesday evening in the final of the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia) as they seek the second trophy in their quest for a first ever treble. Few would have predicted that, 16 months on from his sacking by AC Milan, manager Massimiliano Allegri, would be on the cusp of steering the Turin club to treble success. But now there are only two games between Juventus and history.
A fourth successive Serie A title triumph was accomplished with four league games remaining, allowing Allegri to rest a number of key first team players in Sunday’s league victory over Inter Milan at the San Siro. Gianluigi Buffon, Patrice Evra, Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo, and Carlos Tevez were all left out allowing them time to prepare and rest for the upcoming final. One player that Allegri will not be able to call on for Wednesday’s game is Alvaro Morata. Morata, who scored in both legs of Juve’s Champions League semi-final victory over his former club Real Madrid, is suspended following a red card against Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia semi-final. Despite winning the Coppa Italia nine times, Juve have not lifted the trophy in 20 years, being losing finalists on three occasions in the last two decades. Their opponents in Wednesdays final though, Lazio, are seen as Italian Cup masters – winning the cup on six of the seven occasions that they have reached the final. Lazio however, may well have one eye on Sunday’s league game, as they face city rivals Roma in what is a head-to-head shoot out for the runners-up spot in Serie A, which in turn leads to direct qualification to next seasons Champions League group stage.
If Juventus are successful in negotiating Lazio in the final and claim their second trophy of the season then all eyes will turn to Berlin on June 6th as the ‘Old Lady’ face Spanish giants, Barcelona in the Champions League final. Barcelona, themselves looking for their own treble of La Liga title, Spanish Cup and Champions League will provide a stern test that is sure to be a tactical battle. Juventus have reached the final for the first time since defeat in the 2003 final by Italian rivals AC Milan – which was their fourth finals appearance in seven years during the days of Juve legends such as Peruzzi, Ferrara and Del Piero. For Juventus fans it has been a long wait to reach another Champions League final and one they will be looking forward to with relish.
Juventus are a best price 1.57 (4/7) to lift the Coppa Italia and can be backed at 2.15 (23/20) to overcome Lazio within 90 minutes. For Champions League success, Juve can currently be backed at 3.40 (12/5).
BY: SCOTT MC GLYNN