The Italian football federation was so sure that none of its representatives in the Champion League would make the Berlin final on June 6th that it scheduled the domestic cup final for the same day. Juventus’s heroics in Madrid a week ago have given the FIGC a huge headache (albeit a nice one) and the Coppa Italia final will now be played at the StadioOlimpico in Rome on Wednesday evening.
The match could be a classic, the two best goal scoring teams in the country with 178 goals between them so far, go head to head in the capital, Lazio hoping to repeat their success of two years ago, Juventus looking to lift the trophy for the first time in 20 years. Lazio will hope to take advantage of playing on their own turf, Juventus will be looking to complete the second part of their treble assault having already secured the Scudettoand with a Champions League final date to come with FC Barcelona in early June.
The match is being billed as a tale of two strikers, both of whom could be bidding farewell to Italian football at the end of the season. German World Cup winner Miroslav Klose has hinted in recent weeks that he will in all probability leave Lazio in the summer. The 37-year-old veteran and author of 12 goals this season (three of which have come in this competition) will be appearing in his 14thcareer cup final on Wednesday evening and will be hoping to repeat the success of two years ago.
His opposite number Fernando Llorente, looks certain to lead the Juventus attack alongside Carlos Tévez with the big Spanish striker also facing an uncertain future. After a devastating first season in Turin where he scored 16 goals in 34 appearances,Llorente has had to take a back seat role this campaign as his fellow countryman Alvaro Morata takes all the plaudits for some outstanding performances -Morata is unavailable on Wednesday after he was sent off in the semi-final second leg against Fiorentina.
Llorente’s strike rate has diminished significantly this season having only found the net on six occasions although many of his appearances have been from the substitute’s bench.His only goal inthis competition came in the semi-final first leg home defeat to Fiorentina. Coach Massimo Allegri will select from a 23 man squad on Wednesday evening with only midfielder’s Claudio Marchisio (suspension), Rômulo (injured) and defender Martin Cáceres(injured)absent from the squad. Marco Storari should retain his status as first choice goalkeeper for the Coppa Italia.
For Lazio, Dutch defender Stefan de Vrij could return as part of a defensive trio alongside last weekend’s match winner Santiago Gentiletti and ŞtefanRadu. Highly rated Italian youngster DaniloCataldi may come into the side to bolster the midfield as coach Stefano Pioli opts to play the 3-4-2-1 system that he’s been experimenting with in training this week.
Our Probable Formations:
Lazio (3-4-2-1) Berisha; de Vrij, Gentiletti, Radu; Basta, Cataldi, Parolo, Lulić; Candreva, Felipe Anderson; Klose
Juventus(3-5-2) Storari; Chiellini, Barzagli, Bonucci; Evra, Vidal, Pirlo, Pogba, Lichtsteiner; Llorente, Tévez
BY: STEVE MITCHELL