May 1, 2012 by Peter Galindo
As April turns to May, a mammoth showdown in Rome is set. On May 20th, it’ll be Juventus facing off against Napoli at the Stadio Olimpico in what should be a compelling match. The Bianconeri had to go to extra time with AC Milan at the Juventus Stadium but advanced 4-3 on aggregate, while Siena fought hard in both legs, but fell to Napoli 3-2 over both games.
The first semi final of the week was on Tuesday and featured the two best teams in Italy in Juve and Milan. A Martin Caceres brace gave Juventus two vital away goals going into the second leg and the Old Lady used that to her advantage. Milan started off the match on a high note, but Juventus regrouped and conjured up a magnificent goal to go 1-0 up. The second half was mostly Milan dominated who finally made their chances count with two beautifully worked goals from Djamel Mesbah and Maxi Lopez. Thanks to the 2-1 score line, extra time was needed to decide which Italian powerhouse would play in Rome at season’s end. Mirko Vucinic answered the question with a scintillating strike in the ninety-sixth minute to punch Juve’s ticket to the final. This was the third meeting between the two most successful clubs in Serie A history, however the last encounter between both sides wasn’t what the rivalry is usually about. The post match affairs involved lots of controversy and arguing between Milan and Juventus which continued for the next few days. This game was a breath of fresh air in that respect, there were no verbal altercations or fan bickering, just a good old fashioned classic that these two clubs usually display.
Allegri himself said that the better team won and that his side failed to capitalize on their chances. In hindsight, Juventus didn’t play their best game, they started off both halves poorly but unlike the first, they didn’t break out and attack as much. However, as the old saying goes “great teams find a way to win even when they don’t perform at their best” and Juve proved that on Tuesday night. This team finds ways to win (or advance in this case) and that’s why they fully deserve their spot in the final.
Napoli went into their game motivated and angry. They lost their Champions League match at Chelsea last week and picked up a dramatic 2-2 draw against Udinese but could’ve won the match the way they were firing shots at Samir Handanovic. With all of this in mind, Walter Mazzarri named Cristian Maggio and Edinson Cavani in the starting eleven despite doubts of their fitness.
Siena went into the match without Mattia Destro and Emanuele Calaio up front, so scoring would be a problem for the visitors, which played right into Napoli’s hands. Simon Vergassola’s own goal made it 1-0, but Edinson Cavani added an insurance marker to make it 2-0. The match itself ended up being a classic attack vs. defense with Napoli’s 3-5-2 battling Siena’s 5-4-1 with attack winning this duel. For the Azzurri, it’s a consolation for their Champions League elimination and a chance at some silverware to give the fans something to cheer about. Hopefully for the passionate Neapolitans, they’ll qualify for their second straight campaign in Europe to add to a potential Coppa Italia title. Wednesday night was another historic achievement for Napoli as they’ve advanced to their first Coppa Italia final in fifteen years and will gun for their first cup win since 1987.
If this game will be anything like their 3-3 meeting in November, it’ll definitely be one of the best Coppa Italia finals in recent history.