Serie A football returned after a mid-winter break last weekend, and the action in Italy comes thick and fast as the last 16 of the Coppa Italia gets underway in midweek. Four ties will be played across Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week, with the remaining four games scheduled for next week.
Juventus have won the domestic Italian cup in the last two seasons, and they start their defence of the trophy with a home tie against this season’s surprise package Atalanta. The 6th placed Serie A side continued their good form with a 4-1 win at Chievo at the weekend, and are well in contention for a European place. Juve meanwhile, have forged four points clear of Roma at the top of the Serie A table, and are on course for another dominant league and cup double.
Joe Hart’s new club, Torino, are in a respectable 8th position in the table – three places behind their hosts for Thursday night’s cup tie, AC Milan. The England stopper has had a busy time of things in Italy with Torino among the highest scoring and conceding sides in the division, and they were beaten 3-2 on their last visit to the San Siro in August. Milan are in good form, following up the Italian Super Cup win over Juventus before Christmas, with a 1-0 home win over Cagliari in Serie A last weekend.
AC Milan v Torino
With the shackles off in the cup, over 2.5 goals looks a solid bet at -125 with Marathonbet.
Carlos Bacca notched a hat-trick in that 3-2 win against Torino back at the start of the season, and the diminutive hitman was on target with the 88th minute winner against Cagliari on Sunday. His goal-poaching instincts will be perfect for this match – up against a Torino defence which gives up plenty of chances.
The Turin outfit kept a clean sheet in Sunday’s 0-0 away draw at Sassuolo, but that was just their third shut out in ten road games this term. The other two blanks were against Serie A’s bottom two clubs, Pescara and Crotone. Of the remaining seven games Torino have played away from home this season, six have exceeded the over 2.5 goal line.
Milan have played ten matches at the San Siro this season, winning seven, drawing two and losing just once. It’s true that only four of those ten games have gone over the 2.5 goal mark, but they’ve already hosted four of the top seven teams in Juventus, Lazio, Inter and Atalanta.
Juventus v Atalanta
Juve are head and shoulders above the rest of Serie A at the moment, and have already taken their position at the top of the pile ahead of the chasing Roma and Napoli. A Champions League last 32 place is something to look forward to in the coming months, but the champions have shown in the past two seasons that they don’t take this competition lightly. Surprisingly, prior to lifting the trophy in 2014/15, Juve were without a Coppa Italia since the 94/95 season. The extra-time win over Lazio ended a twenty year wait for the trophy, and the Old Lady successfully defended the title by beating Milan – again in extra time – last season.
At home this season Juventus have scored a perfect ten victories, scoring 27 goals and conceding just six times. They’ve beaten Atalanta on their last seven visits, including a 3-1 victory just over a month ago at the start of December.
Atalanta’s highest ever Serie A finish was 5th place in 1948, so the 6th position they find themselves in currently is a great achievement. They did win this competition in 1963, but pragmatism may rule romanticism when it comes to this game. Gian Peiro Gasperini only took over the reins as manager in June last year, but he has made a big impact and will surely look to prioritise league position over the cup. Despite such excellent recent form – only two defeats in fifteen games – they were two goals down inside 20 minutes when they lost here in December, and Juve ran out comfortable 3-1 winners.
AC Milan v Torino – Over 2.5 Goals
Thursday 12th January, 20:00 GMT
Juventus to beat Atalanta
Wednesday 11th January, 19:45 GMT
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