Coppa Italia Semifinal • Juventus-Milan Preview: Restart

Let me begin by saying how grateful and happy I am to be writing a match preview again. What was previously a bit of a chore is now exciting and making me tear up a little, if I’m honest. While the world has changed, and restarting football feels a little nerve-wracking, it also feels like coming home after a long trip. I guess that is the best way to describe how it feels to finally be on the verge of the restart.

Missing some key players

This match was originally scheduled to be played on Wednesday, March 4th. That was right before the shutdown, and Italy and the FIGC and the Lega Serie A were being spectacularly incompetent. My initial preview was an angry, sarcastic rant about the league possibly only allowing Juventus fans to attend the match. Then the match itself was postponed after Milan’s bus had pulled up to the stadium to play. In similar fashion, as of this writing, less than 48 hours from what is expected to be game time, the Italian Minister of Health has not authorized this match, nor its starting time. Restart?

Assuming that someone pushes the restart button, on Friday, we should face Juventus at their stadium. Without any fans for sure this time. Juventus lost their Champions League Round of 16 first leg away to Lyon, but redeemed themselves with a 2-0 win over Inter in a fan-free Derby d’Italia. That put them one point ahead of Lazio in the league. But this is the Coppa Italia. Winner plays for the trophy next Wednesday, loser goes home.

Sarri-ball had lost its savor before the break, can it be refreshed?

Their stoppage time controversial handball call that led to their penalty and away goal has not been forgotten. But they will have to be ahead at 90 minutes, or go straight to penalties, as extra time has been dropped for these matches. Sarri is likely to be without Higuain, and Dybala is not 100% still after a long battle with COVID-19. Demiral is still out with his long-term injury, but other than that, Sarri should have everyone available. How he lines up and whom is entirely unknown, as he will have to assess fitness since the break and more.

Pioli has a massive headache. If Ibrahimovic wasn’t injured, he would be suspended anyway. Also suspended are Theo Hernandez and Samu Castillejo. Pioli is rumored to go with the 4-2-3-1 that was so successful in the first leg. As for attacking options, rumors are that Leao may not feature, rather it is widely thought that Rebic would be up top with Bonaventura and Paqueta behind him. On the wings, Conti may be on the right and Calabria on the left, favored ahead of Laxalt to deputize for Theo Hernandez. Obviously, anything is possible, especially after a three month break.

Two of these guys butted heads at Milanello Wednesday, the other wasn't there

We discussed which team had advantages or not on the latest podcast, but it is really too difficult to know with such a long break in between. Add to that fact that Gazidis seems to be working to undermine the team as much as possible. After not coming to Milanello since just before the sacking of Boban the day before the Genoa match, he showed up yesterday to discuss the players cutting their wages in light of the COVID-19 crisis. That was a distraction the players were not thrilled about, and reports are that Ibrahimovic spoke for them to let him know.

I always have a sense of dread when facing Juventus, even when there is the slightest chance of coming out ahead. This time, I don’t really know what to think. We haven’t had a three month sudden layoff like this before. This is the first game back. Will Milan players be able to step up, even without our fans? Will Juventus get their typical controversial penalty in stoppage time to break our hearts? Who knows? I do know that I cannot wait to see some proper football after all this time. I cannot wait for Friday. I cannot wait for the restart.

This post inspired by the music of The Black Eyed Peas’ “Let’s Get It Started”

Coppa Italia Semifinal 2nd Leg
Juventus vs. Milan
Friday, June 12 • 21:00 CEST (3pm EDT)*
This match can be streamed LIVE on ESPN+ in the U.S.
*Time subject to change, not official yet
Coppa Italia Semifinal • Juventus-Milan Preview: Restart Coppa Italia Semifinal • Juventus-Milan Preview: Restart Reviewed by Elaine on 11:57 PM Rating: 5
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