Juventus, AC Milan Have Helped Restore The Prominence Of The Coppa Italia

Not too long ago, the Coppa Italia had begun to slip into irrelevancy. Desperate to either clinch the Serie A title or claim European glory, the peninsula’s biggest clubs routinely fielded weakened sides in the knockout competition, rarely giving it anything close to their full attention.

The height of that indifference arguably came between 1996 and 2006, a decade which saw AC Milan and Juventus share nine of the 11 league titles and contest no fewer than five Champions League finals. Despite the obvious quality needed to accomplish that level of dominance, it is telling that the duo combined to make just three appearances in the Coppa Italia final and lifted the trophy just once during that same period, often looking to be eliminated as quickly as possible in order to concentrate on other objectives.

After taking charge of Juve in 2011, Antonio Conte continued that same approach, losing in the final in his first season only to exit early in the following two campaigns. His departure in 2014 brought a swift change of tack, however, as Max Allegri insisted from the outset that – with the club having not won the tournament since 1995 – winning the Coppa Italia was long overdue.

He would, of course, do just that, clinching only the third league-and-cup double in the club’s history; the former Milan boss has now repeated that feat in each of the subsequent three seasons, the secondary competition only serving to underscore just how dominant this current version of the Bianconeri has become.

Yet it would be unfair and inaccurate to claim that the Old Lady has been the one to restore some of the cup’s lost luster. The truth is that the two finals before her 2015 triumph were equally important as four of Italy’s other big clubs delivered some memorable clashes that pushed the Coppa Italia back to the forefront.

The first of those came in 2013, when the tie arguably became the most significant edition of the Rome derby ever. Lazio reveled in knocking off their crosstown rivals, Senad Lulic’s solitary goal making him a player the Biancocelesti will never forget while also leaving Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi in tears.

Lazio’s Swiss manager Vladimir Petkovic – with the club’s eagle Olympia perched on his arm – gleefully celebrated with fans in the Curva Nord, while a group of around 200 Roma supporters instead pelted their own team’s bus with eggs and stones as it returned to the training ground.

Twelve months later it was Napoli and Fiorentina taking part in the showpiece event, and for the first 30 minutes, it seemed the latter would be overrun. Already 2-0 down, the Viola looked lost only for Juan Manuel Vargas to smash home a trademark strike from the edge of the box and instantly transform the match.

From there Fiorentina dominated possession, had an equalizer ruled out for offside, and created a number of other good chances to score. They failed to do so and were caught out by Dries Mertens on a late counter-attack, but it was a game that was everything a cup final should be as the two teams went toe-to-toe in search of victory.

While the late 1990s saw Milan and Juve all but ignore the Coppa Italia, they have met in the final twice in the last three years with the 2016 edition seeing the Bianconeri only seal their win in extra time. Alvaro Morata’s strike was all that separated them on that occasion, but last season saw the Old Lady ease their way to a 4-0 triumph in a game that was one-sided from the outset.

Kept apart by the draw, the duo could once again meet in Rome, but there will be no shortage of sides looking to replace one of them along the way. Napoli, led by cup specialist Carlo Ancelotti, would love to secure some silverware, as would Roma, Inter, Lazio, and Fiorentina as they all await their round of 16 ties.

Few are expected to rest their star players, recognizing that – with Juve already nine points clear at the top of Serie A – the Coppa Italia represents their best chance of lifting a trophy this season.

Adam Digby is an Italian football writer for FourFourTwo, The Independent, and elsewhere. Author of "Juventus: A History In Black & White." Follow Adam on Twitter.

DCU's Chris Durkin Looking For A Chance To Showcase At U-20 World Cup


A year and a half ago, Chris Durkin went with the USA U-17 team to the World Cup in India and appeared in all five games. Durkin had signed with D.C. United in June 2016 but had spent most of his time away from the club, either with the U.S. team or playing games in USL with the Richmond Kickers. It was part of United's plan for the defensive midfielder from the Richmond, Virginia, area. Now, with just a couple of months before this year's U-20 World Cup, Durkin is headed to Spain for the U-20 camp with friendlies against Japan and France.

Curacao All Over The Best XI Of Concacaf Nations League Players In Europe

While many of the players in 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League hail from countries that do not have a professional league or from clubs that still compete in the amateur ranks, there are a select few who compete at the highest level in Europe.

Rooney Opens 2019 Account With Hat Trick, Rodriguez Wows With Stunning Goal

Rooney On RSL Game: 'We Were Clinical'

After Saturday night's romp over Real Salt Lake, D.C. United is off to their best start to a league season in a decade. Seven goals scored and zero goals conceded has yielded seven points against Atlanta United, New York City FC, and RSL — all playoff teams from 2018. Wayne Rooney opened his account for the season from the penalty spot, and then didn't stop shooting — and scoring — until he secured his first MLS hat trick in the 5-0 win. 

Lunch Links: Rodriguez Over Morris, Davies Scores For Bayern Munich

Rooney On RSL Game: 'We Were Clinical'

D.C. United dismantled a pretty decent Real Salt Lake team on Saturday night behind Wayne Rooney's first hat trick since moving stateside. Lots of other stuff happened in the MLS over the weekend, but nothing was better than Lucas "Titi" Rodriguez's volley. I promise you that. 

FC Cincinnati Hands Portland FC A Stunning 3-0 Loss In MLS Home Debut

A beautiful sun-splashed afternoon along with 32,500 fans greeted FC Cincinnati when they stepped out of the locker room and onto the home pitch for the first time as a Major League Soccer club.

'Crazy Inter' Win Thrilling Milan Derby In Dramatic 3-2 Victory After PK

Serie A fans were treated to an enthralling Milan Derby on Sunday, as the unfancied Inter pulled off a frenetic 3-2 victory over cross-city rivals AC Milan. The Nerazzurri had been heavily criticized following an awful performance just three days earlier as they crashed out of the Europa League, and reports were rife that coach Luciano Spalletti was close to losing his job.

Make AC Milan Great Again: The Derby Della Madonnina Stakes Are High

Milan’s path to return to greatness is difficult to navigate. With a Juventus’ dynasty not going away, any misstep can knock them off the track. Elliott Management Corp. has installed a stable upper management team with experience. They now have to decide who are the fundamental piece they can build the future on. Both coaches and players are under scrutiny. 

Ruthless D.C. United Make Man Advantage Count Against Real Salt Lake

Rooney On RSL Game: 'We Were Clinical'

Washington, D.C. — Real Salt Lake ended Saturday night's contest against D.C. United with significantly fewer players than they began the game with. Jefferson Savarino was shown a red card for raking Luciano Acosta's face in the first half, and then Marcelo Silva picked up a second yellow for hauling down Lucas Rodriguez in the second half. That made the night easier for the Black-and-Red, as the hosts ran away with a 5-0 victory thanks to a Wayne Rooney hat trick.

Behind Wayne Rooney's Hat Trick, D.C. United Smash Real Salt Lake 5-0

Washington, D.C. — Wayne Rooney netted his first MLS hat trick on Saturday evening, as D.C. United strolled past nine-man Real Salt Lake 5-0. Wayne Rooney scored three times for his first MLS hat trick and added an assist in the second half for Lucas Rodriguez. In front of 17,190 on a cold night at Audi Field, the Black-and-Red took advantage of two red cards to RSL to grab their second win in three tries to start the 2019 season.

D.C. United Must Continue To Succeed At Defending The Box vs Real Salt Lake

Brillant: Defense Is Confident

Last week, D.C. United went to Yankee Stadium, looking to win for the first time ever on the road against New York City FC. United were confident after their opening day win against Atlanta United and could have taken a first-half lead on two occasions, if not for the stellar play of keeper Sean Johnson. The game ended 0-0, which was probably the fairest result, even if both teams felt like they could have walked away with a win.