Milan look to complete a unique Juve hat-trick
ROME: Juventus take on AC Milan and Napoli welcome Fiorentina in a midweek batch of Italian Cup quarter-finals calling into action four in-form and confident squads.
Milan lost 2-1 at home to Napoli in the Serie A on Saturday, but go with self-assurance into tomorrow’s game at the Juventus Stadium.
The Rossoneri, who lost the 2016 Cup final to Juve, beat them on penalties in the Super Cup match last December, after stunning them 1-0 in league action two months earlier.
Losing to gritty Napoli did not dent the optimism of coach Vincenzo Montella, despite slipping two points behind the Europa League zone.
“I am satisfied with the team’s performance if we look at who were our opponents,” Montella said. “It was a really tough test, and I would say we passed it. This match has to give us more confidence for the future.”
Milan director general Adriano Galliani was likewise pleased despite the defeat, but regretted having to play the single-leg Cup game in Turin.
“I don’t know what will happen Wednesday (tomorrow) night,” Galliani said.
“Unfortunately, the rules of the Coppa Italia say we have to play away.”
Juve, meanwhile, seek revenge for the December upset and could possibly confirm a new formation with Paulo Dybala, Gonzlao Higuain and Mario Mandzukic up front after Sunday’s convincing 2-0 defeat of Lazio.
“The tactical switch the coach (Massimiliano Allegri) introduced today means we have to work hard but it’s an excellent idea,” said Higuain, who was on target after Dybala. “Let’s hope this is the right route forward for me and all of us. We must push on from this.
“I’m pleased on a personal level and for the squad as a whole. I play for the team and they do likewise. Let’s keep working hard and turn our attentions to Wednesday (tomorrow) night.”
Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri, who last season coached Higuain, was likewise pleased about the Milan victory, while being keen on team focus and stamina.
“(Saturday) we spent a lot of physical and mental energies and we have to recharge our batteries for Tuesday’s clash,” he said.
Fiorentina are just as upbeat after a 3-0 win at Chievo, which followed a 2-1 defeat of Juve, and look to a good showing in Naples after a 3-3 league home draw in December. Inter Milan v Lazio and Roma v Cesena complete the quarter-finals next week.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid pair Luka Modric and Marcelo are facing spells on the sidelines after they suffered muscular injuries, the Spanish club said yesterday.
Brazilian left-back Marcelo and Croatian midfielder Modric underwent tests yesterday after being forced off the pitch during Real’s 2-1 home win over Malaga on Saturday.
“Following tests carried out today at the Sanitas La Moraleja University Hospital, Marcelo has been diagnosed with a grade 2 muscle injury in his left hamstring,” Real said in a statement. “Modric has been diagnosed with a strain in his right abductor muscle.”
Real did not confirm the length of the absences but Spanish media reported that the duo could be out of action for up to a month.
They are likely to miss several key games, including Real’s Champions League last 16 first leg at home to Napoli on February 15. – dpa/Reuters