Coppa Italia Betting Breakdown: Can Gattuso Lead Milan over Lazio?
After two cagey first-leg affairs last month, the decisive Coppa Italia semifinals take place Wednesday, with Juventus hosting Atalanta in Turin at 11:30 a.m ET followed by AC Milan at Lazio at 2:45 p.m.
Juventus, the reigning champions, not only have the home advantage, but a slender 1-0 lead and crucial away goal. The scorer of said winner in the reverse fixture, Gonzalo Higuain, is sidelined, though, and Max Allegri will also be without the injured Mattia De Sciglio, Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi.
Paulo Dybala is back fit and should start for the first time since early January, but it’s an unsung Juve player that Atalanta have struggled to come to grips with in the past. Indeed, having been redeployed as a very untraditional left-sided forward in recent times, Mario Mandzukic may not carry the same goal threat he once did, but he’s still a big part of Allegri’s approach.
The Croatian has only scored four league goals this season but netted in the club’s last home game in the Coppa against local rivals Torino and has an excellent record in this fixture, too. He’s scored in each of his last three home appearances against Atalanta, and the visitors’ right flank is an area of weakness following the summer sale of Andrea Conti.
Mandzukic is a good price in the anytime goal-scorer market at 3.20 (+220) with Betfair and Paddy Power.
If you wanted to place a bet on a visiting player, it would be difficult to look beyond Alejandro Gomez. The Argentine will be desperate to atone for his penalty miss in the first leg, although he hasn’t scored against The Old Lady since 2011 with Catania.
Atalanta don’t fail to score often, but have drawn blanks against each of Italy’s top four already this season. That makes a bet on a home win with under 2.5 goals a decent value, with the best price at 3.20 (+220) with Sporting Bet. That would be my top tip for this one, though the “Draw (Juventus -1)” handicap – meaning the hosts must win by exactly one goal – is also worth considering.
Should Juventus progress to a fourth straight final in the tournament as expected, they’ll face a familiar foe regardless. After a 0-0 draw in Milan it’s Lazio that have the benefit of playing at home with a blank slate this week, having lost the title match to Juve last season and in 2015.
The champions contested the final in between those two victories over the Eagles against AC Milan, and edged out a tight affair in extra time. The two clubs competing in the late kickoff, then, may well have a revenge mission on their minds.
Both teams are at full strength, barring the long-term absence of the aforementioned Conti for the Rossoneri, but there’s no question as to the form side ahead of the game. While Lazio have put a pretty emphatic end to a five-game streak without a win in all competitions with three consecutive victories, their visitors haven’t tasted defeat since Christmas.
Indeed, when former midfield warrior Gennaro Gattuso was appointed manager, more than a few Carlo Ancelotti-esque eyebrows were raised. It didn’t start well for the ex-Italy international either, with the team suffering the indignity of being the first side to drop points to newly promoted Benevento before losing to the likes of Rijeka, Verona, and Atalanta.
In the 12 games since the defeat to the latter, however, AC Milan have won nine – one of which was against Wednesday’s opponents – drawn three and conceded just four goals in the process, with their most recent of eight clean sheets in that time coming in the capital against Roma.
There will be no traveling for the away side to take into account as a result, playing back-to-back matches at the Stadio Olympic having already proven they can upset the home fans. As such, the odds on an away win seem very high at 4.20 (+320), while there is even greater value in the “double chance” market, with bet365 offering evens on the Rossoneri to win or draw.
Reaching a Coppa Italia final at the first time of asking would certainly make those who doubted his credentials take Gattuso seriously, not that you would ever suggest otherwise to his face!