Having learnt how to use the terms Bananenflanke and Gegenpressing, it’s now time for you to start expanding your vocabulary to include the words Trequartistas and Contropiedes as football makes its triumphant return in Italy.
Yes, after a three month break, calcio returns with a bang as Juventus host AC Milan in the second-leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final tie.
The Bianconeri were fortunate to come away with a 1-1 draw at the San Siro in the first-leg back in February as a late Cristiano Ronaldo penalty was enough to put his side in a strong position to win the return match in Turin.
But with both sides resuming training less than a month ago, it promises to be an even game – with a win ensuring the victor will have a chance to lift some silverware in a couple of weeks’ time.
When Is Kick-Off? Friday 12 March
What Time Is Kick Off? 20:45 (GMT)
Where Is it Played? Allianz Stadium
TV Channel/Live Stream? BTSport.com/BT Sport App (repeat broadcast on Premier Sports 1)
Referee? Gianluca Rocchi
Juve have just the one injury to contend with ahead of Friday’s clash – striker Gonzalo Higuaín strained a muscle in training recently, and will be considered a major doubt for the game.
Other than the Argentine though, it’s a fully-fit squad for Maurizio Sarri with long-term absentee Merih Demiral (knee) returning to full training in recent weeks.
As for Milan, they will likely be without the services of Swedish star Zlatan Ibrahimović, who injured his calf in training and isn’t likely to be fit in time for this second-leg clash. Goalkepper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who missed the Rossoneri’s last Serie A game before the break, has recovered from his ankle problem and will return to keep out the likes of Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala at the Allianz Stadium.
Juventus: Buffon; De Sciglio, Bonucci, De Ligt, Sandro; Ramsey, Pjanić, Bentancur; Cuadrado, Dybala, Ronaldo
AC Milan: Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjær, Romagnoli, Hernández; Çalhanoğlu, Kessié, Bennacer, Bonaventura; Rebić, Leão
This will be the 232nd encounter between these two clubs in total, and has recently favoured the home side, with Milan having failed to beat their opponents since 2016.
However, the Rossoneri were unlucky to be held to a draw in the first-leg and will take confidence from being minutes away from a one-goal lead – before the equalising penalty was awarded to Juve, which was converted by Ronaldo.
It’s also a fixture that the Portuguese superstar will be confident of scoring in, having netted three times in the last five matches against Stefano Pioli’s team.
And the visitors will certainly need to be firing on all cylinders themselves, having failed to score in three of their last four trips to Turin.
Juve were on a tear before the suspension of football, having only lost three times in 2020. Their most recent game saw the Bianconeri put aside their Derby d’Italia rivals Inter with a 2-0 win that maintained their narrow lead at the top of Serie A.
The same could not be said for the Rossoneri, who had only tasted victory once in their last five games before the break. A disappointing 2-1 defeat at home to Genoa meant that they couldn’t draw level with sixth-placed Napoli, who currently sit in the final European spot.
They’ll be keen to kick-off the final stretch of games with a win to have a chance of winning a trophy, which would certainly be the highlight of another disappointing season for Il Diavolo.
Here’s how both sides had fared in their last five fixtures before Serie A was suspended.
Juventus 2-0 Inter (8/3)
Lyon 1-0 Juventus (26/2)
Juventus 2-0 Brescia (16/2)
Milan 1-1 Juventus (13/2)
Verona 2-1 Juventus (8/2)
Milan 1-2 Genoa (8/3)
Fiorentina 1-1 Milan (22/2)
Milan 1-0 Torino (17/2)
Milan 1-1 Juventus (13/2)
Inter 4-2 Milan (9/2)
As expected, it’s difficult to predict exactly what you’ll see in this game, given the long layoff both teams have experienced during football’s suspension.
But given the home side’s fantastic record against their opponents, it’s hard not to see how they battle to a victory. Their superior quality means that they will be the undisputed favourites – despite Milan hoping that the recent trend of away sides winning more frequently on the road continues on Friday night.
And even though the Rossoneri looked decent in the first-leg, it’s hard to see them being able to replicate their defensive display in their first game back. Add that to the likely absence of Ibrahimović, who has been a key focal point for their attack – and it becomes even more apparent that they will find overcoming La Vecchia Signora to be too tough a task
Prediction: Juventus 2-1 Milan