Juventus will look to take another step toward their sixth Coppa Italia final in seven years when they host SPAL in the quarter-final on Wednesday at 7:45pm (UK time).
The Old Lady came through a tough match against Genoa in the last round to reach this stage, winning 3-2 in extra-time after throwing away a 2-0 lead in the 90 minutes. SPAL, meanwhile, shocked Serie A side Sassuolo with a 2-0 away win in the round-of-16 and head to Turin on a strong run of form in the Italian second tier.
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Where to watch Juventus vs SPAL on TV:
- UK: N/A
- US: ESPN+
Scoreline prediction: Juventus 3-0 SPAL
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Juventus vs SPAL build-up, previous line-ups & injury news:
Andrea Pirlo’s men have recovered brilliantly from their 2-0 loss against Inter, beating Napoli 2-0 to lift the Supercoppa Italiana before edging past Bologna by the same scoreline at the weekend.
With 13 titles to their name, Juventus have won the Coppa Italia more than any other side in Italy, also reaching a record 20 finals (including last season), though they fell to a shock penalty shootout defeat to Napoli in that particular showpiece. However, given their historical record, Juventus will fancy their chances here against lower league opposition.
That said, SPAL won’t be short on confidence themselves ahead of their trip to Turin and will certainly be eager to make their mark on the Italian champions.
Pasquale Marino’s men have already knocked out Serie A sides Sassuolo and Crotone to reach this stage, while they’re currently enjoying a four-game unbeaten run across all competitions and remain well in contention for promotion back to the top-flight.
- Juventus (vs Bologna): Szczesny; Cuadrado, Bonucci, Chiellini, Danilo; McKennie, Arthur, Bentancur, Bernardeschi; Kulusevski, Ronaldo.
- SPAL (vs Cremonense): Berisha; Tomovic, Vicari, Ranieri; Strefezza, Missiroli, Esposito, Valoti, Sala; Paloschi, Floccari.
Juan Cuadrado’s return has helped ease Pirlo’s defensive injury crisis, but he will remain without Matthijs de Ligt, Alex Sandro and Merih Demiral for this cup clash. Paulo Dybala will also be absent for the Old Lady.
SPAL head to Turin missing only long-term absentees Ibrahima Mbaye, Gary Medel and Federico Santander.
Player to watch: Weston McKennie (Juventus)
Weston McKennie’s loan signing from Schalke last summer wasn’t met with much fanfare by those unfamiliar with him but to anyone who had watched the United States international in action in Germany over the past couple of years, this was a great move from Juventus.
McKennie has always been known for his industry and defensive output and, indeed, he has been putting up solid numbers in that regard, averaging 5.35 recoveries, 1.64 tackles and 2.51 possessions won in the middle third per 90 minutes in Serie A.
However, what went under the radar ahead of his arrival in Turin was his ability to help in the final third. Having only managed one Bundesliga goal in 47 appearances prior, McKennie netted three times in 28 games for a Schalke side which struggled woefully and played some of the worst football in the German top-flight in 2019/20.
The 22-year-old has backed that up with four goals across all competitions so far for Juventus this season, while also notching two assists and creating the third-highest number of big chances (5) among his teammates in Serie A. Speaking after Juventus’ 2-0 win over Bologna, in which McKennie scored the second goal, the former FC Dallas academy man revealed that years of being tasked with providing killer passes has given him the instincts to now make runs into those dangerous areas himself.
“I have the energy to make runs into open spaces, I just see them,” he said. “I used to be the man who had to look for that passes, so I know where to look, I kind of have the instincts to make those runs.”
So impressive has McKennie been for the Italian champions so far that he’s even left some of his teammates stunned by his ability on both sides of the ball.
“He has surprised me a lot,” said midfield partner, Arthur. “He is an extremely intense player, he’s always running all over the pitch and helps defensively too. But he also scores a lot of goals, important ones for a midfielder. He’s a very, very good midfielder and one of the best.”
Intense, high-energy and dominant with and without the ball, it’s looking increasingly likely that McKennie will make his loan stay in Turin permanent at the end of the season. He’d love to do so with another trophy under his belt, and the hunt for that continues here.
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