Juventus’ quest for domestic domination has a potential roadblock in its way, with an inspired Lazio awaiting them in the 2017 Coppa Italia final on Wednesday.
While the Bianconeri are on the verge of winning the Serie A for the sixth consecutive time, a stat which would normally make them overwhelming favourites.
Lazio, however, are no ordinary team for Simone Inzaghi has revitalised them, ensuring a return to Europe is on the cards (currently they are fourth in the league) while masterminding an excellent run to the final.
There is no denying Juventus have the edge, but this is a final and Lazio should not be underestimated.
After two consecutive years of winning the Coppa Italia, Juventus could be forgiven for thinking the three-peat is in the bag.
Their manager Massmiliano Allegri will not be having any of that and, after resting several key players in the loss to Roma on Sunday, will be exhorting his players to churn out a performance that the world is accustomed to seeing them.
Paulo Dybala has outscored Gonzalo Higuain in the competition and once again, the Bianconeri’s dazzling Argentine strike force will be crucial in their quest for silverware.
The Turin-based club are on the edge of glory, but as the business end of the season nears, it will have to guard against complacency, which does creep in even to the best of teams.
What they are saying: “The moment has come to take things to the next level. As it has been every season, our priority for now is winning some silverware, starting with the Coppa Italia,” says Juventus goalkeeper Neto (www.juventus.com).
Injury concerns: Sami Khedira (Thigh), Daniele Rugani (Knee), Marjo Pjaca (Knee)
Suspension Alert: Mirajlem Pjanic
Ciro Immobile has been in searing form, but so has Keita Balde and along with Felipe Anderson, form an extremely potent attack trio for the Biancocelesti.
While their offence has been excellent this season (72 goals scored in the league, same as Juventus), their defence has been found wanting on many occasions as they have conceded 45 (worst in the top six).
Against Juventus’ rapier-like counter attacks, they could be put to the sword and Inzaghi will be wary of attacking the mighty Bianconeri head-on, instead he will be opting for the smash-and-grab method if they are to script an upset.
Jordan Lukaku faces a race against time to get fit for the final at the Stadio Olimpico as does Marco Parolo and Inzaghi will be praying fervently that the duo recover Wednesday’s clash.
What they are saying: “We have kept teams like Milan, Inter and Fiorentina behind us, a source of pride not only for me but also for my boys. We want to continue to grow and do important things,” says Lazio manager Simone Inzaghi (www.sslazio.it).
Injury concerns: Jordan Lukaku (Thigh), Marco Parolo (Knee), Federico Marchetti (Knee)
Suspension Alert: None