Just five days after calcio returned at the Allianz Stadium on Friday night, Italy will have its first cup final of the season.
That’s right, the 73rd iteration of the Coppa Italia is set to be decided on Wednesday night as Juventus take on Napoli at the Stadio Olimpico following their respective triumphs in the semi-finals.
The Bianconeri scraped past Milan on away goals after Ante ‘Nigel de’ Rebic’s sending off ruined a dire second leg, while Inter found themselves on the receiving end of a stout defensive display by the Partenopei as Gennaro Gattuso’s side progressed via a 2-1 aggregate scoreline.
The Nerazzurri appeared in total control following Christian Eriksen’s early opener, before Napoli struck on the counter just before the break to seize the initiative and allow them to sit deep in the second period.
Nevertheless, as the first piece of silverware in a COVID-19 world is set to be contested this week, let’s take a look at some of the finest finals in the competition’s modern history.
The first piece of silverware secured by the Biancocelesti during Sven-Goran Eriksson’s tenure, as their golden era started to take shape.
It wasn’t all plain sailing though; George Weah struck late at San Siro to hand Milan the advantage heading into the second leg – two-legged finals were a thing up until 2008 – and after Demetrio Albertini had opened the scoring in Rome, Fabio Capello looked set for one last hurrah following an imperious spell in charge, but a dismal 1997/98 league campaign.
Lazio substitute Guerino Gottardi soon tapped home the equaliser on the night, however, before Yugoslavian midfielder Vladimir Jugovic made it 2-1 from 12 yards following a rare defensive error from Paolo Maldini.
The hosts, buoyed by the departure of Marcel Desaiily through injury, then bundled in a third within the space of ten minutes through Alessandro Nesta to gift them a 3-2 aggregate victory.
A tight two-legged thriller littered with stars, it was Parma who eventually prevailed on away goals.
Gabriel Batistuta poacher’s effort earned La Viola a 1-1 draw at Il Tardini following Hernan Crespo’s early opener, before the Gialloblu battled their way to victory after a back-and-forth second leg.
Centre-back Tomas Repka cancelled out Crespo’s improvised effort before Sandro Cois handed Fiorentina the advantage for the first time in the final.
And despite Parma boasting the likes of the aforementioned Crespo, Enrico Chiesa, Juan Sebastian Veron among others, full-back Paolo Vanoli stole the glory as he made it 2-2 on the night 20 minutes from time to hand Alberto Malensani’s side their second Coppa Italia title in front of a despairing Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Nine goals over two legs? Now we’re talking.
Unfortunately, however, this one was over following Milan’s spellbinding second-half blitz in the first leg at the Olimpico.
Goals from Massimo Ambrosini, Andriy Shevchenko and a brace from Serginho saw a weakened Rossoneri side secure a 4-1 victory away in Rome after Francesco Totti had given the hosts the lead with an absolute thunderbastard.
And with Carlo Ancelotti welcoming back Clarence Seedorf, Pippo Inzaghi and Gennaro Gattuso for the second leg following their Champions League triumph three days prior, victory appeared a formality for Milan.
A brace from Totti early in the second half ensured there were a few squeaky bums in the San Siro crowd before Rivaldo swiftly restored Milan’s two-goal advantage and Inzaghi rounded off a 6-3 aggregate victory late in the day.
By the time the end of the 2003/04 campaign rolled around, Lazio were a fading force following their golden era at the turn of the millennium.
They would, however, secure another piece of silverware through the ’04 Coppa Italia – this time with Roberto Mancini at the helm.
Stefano Fiore’s brace gifted Le Aquile a 2-0 victory in the first leg, before strikes from David Trezeguet and Alessandro Del Piero restored parity for Juventus by the 46th minute in the return fixture. With the Bianconeri poised for glory in Turin, Lazio striker Bernardo Corradi tore up the script with an imperative away goal to hand his side a 3-2 aggregate lead.
That man Fiore then struck again five minutes from time as a thrilling second leg endured an anti-climatic finale.
Serie A’s top two collided in the 2007 final as a majestic Inter outfit – who’d accumulated 97 points on their way to Scudetto glory – took on Luciano Spalletti’s Roma.
Mancini’s champions swiftly found themselves 3-0 down in the first leg in Rome, however, as Totti – who wreaked havoc from a false nine role – Daniele De Rossi and Simone Perotta all got on the scoresheet.
Hernan Crespo pulled one back after rounding Doni before Mancini restored the Giallorossi’s three-goal lead before the break. Christian Panucci then bagged an unlikely brace either side of Crespo’s second strike of the contest, as Roma enjoyed one of the most memorable victories in their modern history with a 6-2 thumping.
The Nerazzurri would win the second leg 2-1 to make the aggregate scoreline slightly more respectable, but the damage was done from Spalletti’s Olimpico masterclass.
Finally, the only way finals should be contested. None of this two-legged nonsense.
The 2012 final wasn’t the greatest spectacle, but it was nonetheless a significant upset.
Many would’ve expected Antonio Conte and his 3-5-2 to breeze past a Napoli side who, despite boasting that front three of Lavezzi – Cavani – Hamsik; had finished fifth in Serie A, were beaten 3-0 by the Bianconeri in Turin and capitulated at Stamford Bridge in part one of Chelsea’s miraculous Champions League triumph.
But boy did they show up here.
A stern defensive effort was rewarded midway through the second period as Cavani opened the scoring from the penalty spot, before Hamsik made sure of Napoli’s first piece of silverware since Diego Maradona left town with an 83rd minute effort.
Not exactly how Del Piero envisaged his final game in Bianconeri colours playing out.
Back again with Coppa Italia merchants Lazio, and this time they took on a superb Juventus side who had just waltzed to the Scudetto and could only be topped in Europe by ‘MSN’ and Barcelona’s treble-winners.
Nevertheless, Le Aquile – who finished just the 18 points adrift of Juve in Serie A – got off to a flyer as Stefan Radu headed home Danilo Cataldi’s free kick.
An imperious Bianconeri quickly restored parity though, through Giorgio Chiellini before an even contest was forced into extra time.
Substitute Alessandro Matri, who had earlier had a goal ruled out for offside, proved the hero in the extended period as he finished past Etrit Berisha following some neat work in the build-up by the Italian.
This was the first of four consecutive Coppa Italia successes for Massimiliano Allegri’s side. The others, however, didn’t quite offer the quality of contest as seen in 2015.