AC Milan, Lazio Square Off In Coppa Italia In Game Filled With Bad Blood

“We are inconsistent, but we go to San Siro to win. We are stronger and, man for man, there is no comparison.” 

That was the opinion of Lazio defender Francesco Acerbi two weeks ago as his side prepared for their Serie A clash with AC Milan, prompting Rossoneri midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko to respond with a simple tweet.

“Ok ACERBI see you Saturday,” he wrote, waiting until the final whistle of that match to truly exact his revenge for the slight. Exchanging shirts and a brief hug with the Italy international, Bakayoko and teammate Franck Kessie then headed under the Curva Sud where Milan’s hardcore supporters gather.



Playfully, they paraded the shirt like a trophy, the 1-0 win giving the Milan duo bragging rights and the opportunity for what should have been regarded as the ultimate piece of banter to end their spat. Of course, that would not be the case and Acerbi made his feelings clear, going so far as to say (in the tweet above) that "fomenting hatred is not sport but a sign of weakness,” while Lazio striker Ciro Immobile chimed in, calling Bakayoko and Kessie "two little men.” 

Canadian viewers can watch the Coppa Italia LIVE on FloFC

Milan issued a statement offering a public apology, but that was not enough for the footballing authorities, the pair fined a total of €86,000 for the incident. But it was also deemed insufficient by Lazio supporters, who used their next match—at home against Udinese—to deliver their own verdict. “Bakayoko, this banana is for you,” they chanted among various other racist taunts, which of course prompted no response whatsoever from the Lega Serie A or the FIGC, who took no action in that matter.

All of which brings us to Tuesday evening’s Coppa Italia semifinal clash, a second leg that could not be more finely balanced. Since playing Milan, Lazio have won against Udinese but capitulated this past weekend, losing to an already relegated Chievo, a game which saw Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto earn needless red cards.

“We knew it would be tougher than people assumed, but without doubt that was a massive error and we all paid dearly for it,” said Lazio head coach Simone Inzaghi when asked about the first of those sendings off. “We should’ve stayed calm and after that gesture it all became more difficult. It’s not over for our Champions League hopes, but this was a step backwards that nobody expected.”

Neither player will be suspended in the cup and that race for the top four, which sees Milan in fourth just four points above Lazio in eight, will be put to one side, a place in next month’s final the only priority here. The Rome-based outfit are expected to use their usual 3-5-2 formation, with long-term injury casualties Jordan Lukaku and Valon Berisha the only absentees for Inzaghi to deal with.

For Milan, only Giacomo Bonaventura remains on the sidelines, allowing Gattuso to use his favored 4-3-3 formation with Pepe Reina continuing in goal as he has in this competition. In front of him, Mateo Musacchio is expected to get the nod alongside skipper Alessio Romagnoli, while the skillful Lucas Paquetá will join Bakayoko and Kessie in midfield.

Their attack as always will focus on creating chances for Krzysztof Piątek who—in addition to his 21 league goals this term—has bagged eight goals in just four Coppa Italia appearances but boss Gennaro Gattuso insists his men must be concentrated on this next fixture after dropping points at the weekend.

“We must take it game by game,” the coach told reporters after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Parma. “We’ll now focus on Lazio and I know that there will be more than 55,000 fans in attendance. We can’t put in another performance like that of our first half tonight.”

Given how close these two teams have been in recent encounters, that is undoubtedly true. Milan’s recent victory over Lazio ended a run of four consecutive draws between the pair, with a total of just three goals scored in their last five meetings.

With the bad blood from the Acerbi incident adding another layer of intrigue, it will be a tense affair at San Siro, but one which will see the victor heading to next month’s final with a chance of lifting the Coppa Italia.

AC MILAN (4-3-3): Reina; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Bakayoko, Paqueta; Suso, Piatek, Calhanoglu

LAZIO (3-5-2): Strakosha; Luiz Felipe, Acerbi, Bastos; Romulo, Milinkovic-Savic, Leiva, Luis Alberto, Lulic; Correa, Immobile


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.

Fiorentina's Annus Horribilis Could End In Relegation

As Serie A moves into its final round this weekend, there are few things still to be decided. Juventus won the title weeks ago, and Napoli have also comfortably secured their place in next season’s Champions League. Chievo Verona and Frosinone have long since been relegated, leaving just the third through sixth European places still to be decided as well as one team who will face the drop to Serie B. 

Audi Field To Host French Clubs For Next Three Years

D.C. United and  Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) announced on Monday morning that United's home, Audi Field, will host an upcoming tournament this summer, featuring four teams from France's Ligue 1. The event, sponsored by Electronic Arts (EA), will take place on July 18 and 21, with two teams on each day.

MLS Little Things: New England Approaches The Arena Era

We’re back with some more Little Things, this time featuring the Revolution, who are approaching the Bruce Arena era; Real Salt Lake, with explanations for their inconsistency; and plenty more:

Three Thoughts From D.C. United's Loss To The Houston Dynamo

Wayne Rooney's early second half goal seemed to put D.C. United on track for a seven-point week on Saturday against the Houston Dynamo, but two goals in two minutes later in the half gave the hosts all three points. 

Alejandro Bedoya On What Went Wrong With USA & More

The Philadelphia Union have enjoyed a strong start to the 2019 Major League Soccer season, with the Chester outfit (at the time of writing) sitting second in the Eastern Conference. Captain Alejandro Bedoya has been crucial to their early success and so FloFC figured this would be a good time to catch up with the former Nantes and Rangers midfielder.

Houston Dynamo Fight Back To Defeat D.C. United 2-1

Despite taking a lead early in the second half, D.C. United's troubles in Houston continued on Saturday night, as the Houston Dynamo fought back for a 2-1 win at BBVA Compass Stadium. Wayne Rooney's goal 25 seconds into the second half was negated by two goals in two minutes from substitutes Memo Rodriguez and Tommy McNamara. Paul Arriola then got a red card late on, harming United's chances of grabbing a late equalizer.

D.C. United Out For Another Result On The Road Against Houston Dynamo

D.C. United are back at it on Saturday in part two of a three-game road trip following their midweek draw against Toronto FC. They face a stiff test against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium in a matchup of two of the league’s best teams this year. The action is set to kick off at 8:30 PM ET, and coverage starts on FloFC at 8 PM ET for DMV viewers.

Graham Smith Answers Sporting KC's Call

After spending most of the 2018 campaign with Sporting KC’s USL affiliate, the Swope Park Rangers, center back Graham Smith has started the last two games for Sporting KC as the club fights through a number of injuries. 

DCU Face Another Talented Attack After Defensive Masterclass In Toronto

Fresh off a scoreless draw in which D.C. United were able to fend off the third most shots in MLS history (35), Ben Olsen’s men head to the Lone Star State in search of another positive result against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night. The Black-and-Red will face another stiff test at the back when they line up opposite of one of the league’s most electrifying attacks

Yoann Damet Brings A New Attitude To FC Cincinnati

A change of coaches brought about a much needed change in attitude for FC Cincinnati.