Coppa Italia Review: a new champion will be crowned

For the first time since 2014, we will have a new winner in the Coppa Italia, as the favorites fall in Italy’s domestic cup competition.

Milan 2-0 Napoli

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Krzysztof Piatek… Remember the name! The Rossoneri scored two first-half goals through their new man to secure a place in the semi-finals versus a slightly dis-jointed Napoli. The Partenopei had the better start, dominating possession – as we have come to expect – but in the 10th minute, the Polish poacher struck! A long pinged ball from Diego Laxalt made its way to the number 19, he took one touch, opened himself up, and calmly placed the ball into the left-hand corner of the goal past a helpless David Ospina in goal. The Neapolitans created a chance soon after, but Lorenzo Insigne hit his shot right at Italian teammate Gigio Donnarumma in goal and they were to pay soon after. A quick counter from the five-time Coppa winners, led by another January recruit in Lucas Paqueta, resulted in the second goal of the game for Milan. A pass to Piatek and the former Genoa man did the rest. He was faced with central defenders Kalidou Koulibaly and  Nikola Maksimovic, but he carried the ball away from the duo and hit an unstoppable curling shot into the same side he scored his first. Ospina had no chance. In the second half, the Campanians put a severe amount of pressure on the Lombardians goal, but a combination of Donnarumma being alert, his defenders making blocks, and lack of a cutting edge from the away side, meant there was to be no comeback.

Fiorentina 7-1 Roma
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The above photo is of starlet Federico Chiesa, but truth and in fact, the ENTIRE Viola side contributed to their team’s crushing win over the Giallorossi. Before 20 minutes had even elapsed, the home team were up by two with a well-taken brace from Chiesa. The first, a first-time finish from a cross along the ground and the second beating the offside trap and chipping the oncoming Robin Olsen in the Roma goal. The away side reduced the deficit by one when Aleksandar Kolarov hit a ferocious 23-yard shot to give his team hope, however,  was just consolidation as the six times Coppa winners went on a rampage soon after. Luis Muriel continued his brilliant form since returning to Italy, hitting a first time shot from a Cristiano Biraghi cross that took a slight deflection and went into the net. The first half ended with the home side up 3-1, and there was much more to come. The Romans put incessant pressure on the Tuscans, but their goalkeeper Alban Lafont made some good saves and the defense held firm. However, the second pile of goals started just after the hour mark. Marco Benassi continued his good goalscoring form when he was put through into the 18-yard box first, Chiesa completed his hat-trick – after hitting a rasping volley after being set up by Benassi – and then Giovanni Simeone got on the scoreboard not once, but twice, after a lovely crossed pass from Edmilson inside the box and a long ball over the top of the Roma defense. 7-1. An utter decimation.

Atalanta 3-0 Juventus

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La Dea dominated this game and fully deserved to knock the defending champions Juve out in Bergamo. In a similar way to which Lazio played all over Juve on Sunday night, the home team did the same at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia, however, unlike the Biancocelesti, Atalanta were not wasteful with their chances. In the 36th minute, they broke the deadlock thanks to Timothy Castagne. He won the ball off Rodrigo Bentancur and hit a lovely curling effort into the Juve goal and it was 1-0.  Just two minutes later and the Bergamaschi doubled their lead and no surprise to who the goal-scorer was. Colombian Duvan Zapata collected the ball in the box, turned his marker and hit an unstoppable shot into the goal. That is now his 20th goal in his 21st appearance for the club. Right after, Juve’s manager Max Allegri was sent off for yelling at the fourth official. In the second half, as expected, La Vecchia Signora attacked the home side and came close through Sami Khedira and Daniele Rugani, but the Atalanta defense held firm and in the 85th minute they scored their third to wrap up the tie. It was that man again, Zapata, who ran onto an errant back pass from Mattia De Sciglio, went around Szczesny and scored into an empty net.

Inter 1(3)-1(4) Lazio

Based on everything that factors into the game, this matchup between the “twinned” teams of the Nerazzurri and the Biancocelesti had it all. The away side largely dominated the first half and their best chance fell to Ciro Immobile, but the home team’s goalkeeper Samir Handanovic made the save to keep his team in the game. The Slovenian continued to perform with a number of saves, including shots from Luis Alberto and Immobile again early in the second half.  Il Biscione’s play was very disjointed, unorganized, and just generally lacking in ideas or any sort of cohesion. Late on in regulation time, Handanovic pulled off a double save within a couple of minutes from Felipe Caicedo and yet again Immobile.

In extra-time, the game was a bit more balanced, with Inter holding most of the possession, but it was Le Aquile that took the lead. A lovely inter-change between Immobile and Caicedo and the former finally put the ball in the back of the net, although thanks to a deflection off Danilo D’Ambrosio. Inter left back Kwadwo Asamoah was initially shown a red card for a tackle, but after using the VAR, the referee reversed his decision and issued a yellow. On literally the last play of the game, Inter were awarded a penalty after Sergej Milinkovic-Savic needlessly fouled D’Ambrosio in the 18-yard box. Stefan Radu was sent off for Lazio for protesting. Mauro Icardi stepped up and converted – it was 1-1 and we were headed to penalties. In the shoot-out, two Inter substitutes Lautaro Martinez and Radja Nainggolan – both of whom were poor when they came on the field – missed their spot kicks, with the former Roma man of all people being the one to miss the decisive one… It was left to Lucas Leiva to step up and he duly converted and sent his team to the last four.

So the semi-finals are set… They will be played on the 27th of February & the 24th of April. The two matches are:

  • Milan vs Lazio
  • Fiorentina vs Atalanta

These match-ups are what nobody could have predicted, but what is for certain – entertainment, drama, and controversy are guaranteed as a place in the final on the 15th of May awaits.

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