On Friday 12 June, Italian football will be back on our screens, as Juventus take on AC Milan in the Coppa Italia semi finals.
Juventus have stuttered at times this season, but showed just before lockdown took hold – at the expense of Inter – that they are done just yet, and still the favourites to win both domestic trophies this season.
AC Milan, on the other hand, have endured another rather horrid season but will be hoping that a win over Juventus will be a statement of intent prior to the re-start of the Serie A season on 20th June.
Wojciech Szczesny (GK) – The second coming of Gigi Buffon once threatened to oust Szczesny from the starting lineup, but the ex-Arsenal stopper has persevered to retain his place. He’s kept eight clean sheets in 19 league appearances so far, and shut out a potent Inter just before football was paused.
Juan Cuadrado (RB) – With only Danilo and Mattia de Sciglio as recognised right-backs, there is no escaping the fact that it’s something of a problem position for Maurizio Sarri. Or, rather, it would be, had Cuadrado not repurposed himself into the overlapping defender of any left-back’s nightmares.
Leonardo Bonucci (CB) – The heartbeat of the team who has diligently kept things ticking over while Giorgio Chiellini has been on the treatment table, Bonucci has been the glue that has held things together. He’s played more minutes than any other player in the Juve team this season and that won’t be changing.
Matthijs de Ligt (CB) – The Robin to Bonucci’s Batman. De Ligt has been learning from the best since his mega money move from Ajax, and though it hasn’t all been plain sailing, he has steadily continued his development to become an important part of the Old Lady’s back line.
Alex Sandro (LB) – The Brazilian’s attacking presence is sorely missed whenever he is unavailable, and his influence – seasoned with the drought of left-sided defenders in Sarri’s ranks – means he is a cert to start whenever he is fit.
Rodrigo Bentancur (CM) – It’s been a bit of an up and down season for Bentancur, but there have been far more positives than negatives in a campaign that has seen him develop into one of Europe’s most effective box to box midfielders. Seven assists in 19 Serie A appearances tell the story of his growing influence and Milan will have their work cut out in keeping that tally down.
Miralem Pjanic (CM) – What Juve lack in the full-back area, they more than make up for in midfield. A coin toss could decide who starts between Pjanic and Sami Khedira, but having been left out of that win over Inter before the break, the Bosnia-Herzegovina international has been left with a point to prove.
Blaise Matuidi (CM) – Leaving Aaron Ramsey out of the starting XI might seem harsh given his form before the break, but the Welshman’s fragile injury record requires careful management. There will be plenty of games between now and August for him to return to his stride, but the experienced, dependable Matuidi will more than suffice as an alternative option.
Douglas Costa (RW) – He’s the least sexy of the Juve forward line but that says more about his contemporaries than it does about him. Costa has had his struggles with injury this term but his explosive pace is an asset Sarri has been keen to utilise whenever possible.
Paulo Dybala (CF) – After a slow start to the season, Dybala is once again showing why he’s one of the most coveted forwards around. While effective playing off the right, he’s played his best football this season as a selfless central striker, linking up seamlessly with Juve’s inverted wingers and marauding midfielders, while chipping in with more than a few goals himself. He’s contributed directly to 25 goals in 34 appearances in what is promising to be one of his most efficient seasons to date.
Cristiano Ronaldo (LW) – Play him at left-back and he’ll hit you 30 goals a season. Ronaldo’s league form this season has been frightening, safely putting to bed any aspersions over his ability to adapt to Serie A by hammering in 21 goals. 16 of those have come in his last 12, so he’s a bit of a danger-man for Bologna.
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