Napoli travel to league leaders in semi final
Two teams coming off reverse ends of big results at the weekend go head-to-head in the first leg of this Coppa Italia semifinal. Inter Milan miraculously turned around a two goal half time deficit to heap misery on rivals AC Milanwith a smashing 4-2 win and an incredible second half performance, seeing them rise to a commanding first place in Serie A on goal difference, following Juventus’ defeat at Hellas Verona. Relegation battling Lecceclaimed the scalp of Napoli, a comfortable 3-2 win as Jose Callejongrabbed a late consolation. With a meeting with title challenging Lazioat the Stadio Olimpico on the horizon for the league leaders, and the chance to pull it back in the second leg suggest this matchup is more significant for Gennaro Gattuso’s visitors.
It was an incredible second half display on Sunday evening, the Black and Bluesmust have had some rocket at half time from serial winner Antonio Conte. They were on level terms within eight minutes of the restart. An inspired snapshot volley from Marcelo Brozovic got the home fans rocking before Manchester United loanee was provider for Matias Vecino to build unstoppable momentum. Then came one of the greatest headed goals you will see this year, or decade. Netherlands international Stefan de Vrij stooped to powerfully flick Antonio Candreva’s out swinging corner beyond GianluigiDonnarumma’s reach. To complete a glaringly fruitful second period for the ex-Red Devils contingent Romelu Lukaku headed home from January addition Victor Moses’ cross.
Hot and cold recovery period
Since Carlo Ancelotti’s departure, the Naples-based side have had an upturn in fortunes despite a few disappointing performances. Prior to the shock defeat last time out Gattuso’s men had put together an eye-catching hattrick of victories, including triumphs over Scudetto contenders Juventusand Lazio backed up by a 4-2 dismissal of Sampdoria. With little hope of forcing their way into the European qualification conversation in Serie A, the Champions League knockout stage recipients’ best hope of a successful campaign would be going deep in the Coppa Italia.
With the hosts’ main aim for 2019/20 being to sustain a competitive challenge to the OldLady distractions like the Coppa Italia and forthcoming Europa League knockout rounds will fall by the wayside in the former Chelseaman’s priority list. The repercussions of Sunday’s victory of returning to the summit of the Italian topflight may see Internazionale rotate significantly for this fixture.
To keep a foothold in the tie, the hosts will be solid in defence.