MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at the Coppa Italia final between Juventus and Lazio on Wednesday night before sharing his best bet.
Juventus v Lazio | Wednesday 19.45 | Sky Sports 5
It’s leg two of a potentially historic treble for Juventus. The Old Lady have secured a fourth consecutive Serie A title with ease and now have two finals in the next fortnight to crown a memorable season, starting with the Coppa Italia. It’s a competition Juve have fallen out of love with in recent years.
Incredibly, you have to go back a whole 20 years since the Turin club last claimed Italian cup honours. Since 1994, the Bianconeri have suffered five defeats in the final whilst Wednesday night’s opponents Lazio have lifted the trophy on five separate occasions.
The Biancocelesti themselves are enjoying a thrilling season and their 1-0 win at Sampdoria on Saturday night kept the capital club on course for Champions League qualification. Santiago Gentiletti was the unlikely goalscoring hero and Stefano Pioli’s men will now arrive at their Stadio Olimpico home in high spirits for the midweek cup classic.
For the superstitious amongst us, as well as a dreadful Coppa Italia return across the past 20 years, Juventus also hold a bizarre head-to-head record against Lazio. Since 2004, the Old Lady have W15-D6-L0 against the Biancocelesti in Serie A (including doing the double this season) but in Coppa Italia duels since 2003/04 that record reads W0-D2-L4.
The league champions fielded a much-changed team for their Derby d’Italia victory at Inter on Saturday night but were rather fortunate in picking up three points. Having fallen behind at the San Siro, Claudio Marchisio levelled matters from the penalty spot and a dreadful mistake from Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic allowed Alvaro Morata to bag the winner in the closing stages. Both Marchisio and Morata are suspended for the final.
Nevertheless, it’s hard not to be seduced by the prospect of backing Juventus at odds-against quotes on Wednesday night. Bet365 have chalked up the Old Lady at 6/5 to win in 90 minutes and that’s a price I believe to be worth taking.
I’m not prepared to be swayed by their poor cup record as the XI that Max Allegri choose to field will be far superior to that of Lazio. Sure, Lazio are playing in their own backyard but Juve cruised to a 3-0 success at the Olimpico in November and are capable of something similar, should they bring their A-game.
Pioli’s underdogs are still working to get key defender Stefan De Vrij back to full fitness and whilst they boast plenty of potential match-winners in forward areas, I’m unconvinced they have enough to step up to the plate when it matters most.
Juventus have W29-D12-L6 in all competitions this season – that’s a win rate of 62%. Saturday’s success at Sampdoria was only Lazio’s second in six league outings (W2-D2-L2) and their return of W0-D1-L5 against top-four opposition in Serie A is the deciding factor, for me.
Despite their excellent campaign, Juve remain the top dogs in Italy and can keep their treble dreams alive with a Coppa Italia win inside 90 minutes.
Juventus v Lazio – Juventus to win (6/5 Bet365)
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