Gennaro Gattuso bids to upset Max Allegri in Coppa Italia Final

Chloe Beresford by Chloe Beresford / 08 May 2018, 16:22

It is 15 years since Milan last won the Coppa Italia, a long time for a club so well-decorated with silverware.

Back then, the final of the cup competition was played over two legs and the Rossoneri lifted the trophy after notching up a 6-3 aggregate score versus Roma. Carlo Ancelotti was the man in charge back then, a Coach who current boss Gennaro Gattuso states he has learned so much from.

Having played in the second leg of that tie in which Milan were last victorious, Gattuso now steps into the shoes of his mentor in order to lead his side to a win that has been yearned for by the club’s supporters. Standing in their way will be Juventus, the team having triumphed in the last three consecutive Coppa Italia finals.

Such opponents may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, but the former Rossoneri midfielder deserves immense credit for how he has improved his side’s fortunes since he replaced Vincenzo Montella in November. Gone is the tinkering with the side as Gattuso has introduced a 4-3-3 with a regular starting lineup.

This back-to-basics approach has been paired with his clear strengths as a motivator, bringing the best from a squad that were newly formed thanks to investment from the club’s Chinese owners this summer. Not only have individual performances dramatically improved thanks to Gattuso’s efforts, but the team as a whole have clearly defined roles, an adjustment that sorely needed to be made.

With Juve not always in the best of form of late, the question remains as to whether effort, organisation and workrate can break this side’s run of Coppa Italia victories. Gattuso undoubtedly brings a winning mentality to his team, but will it be enough?

Max Allegri has been criticised for a negative approach of late as Juve have made uncharacteristic mistakes but - as Napoli can certainly attest - their winning habit is extremely hard to break. Juve won 3-1 versus Milan in the league on March 31st, with their opponents having played well enough to at least earn a draw, however Allegri made a series of inspired substitutions with the scores at 1-1 that dramatically changed the game.

“It was important to get back to winning ways against Milan, who are in good shape,” said Allegri to reporters after that victory.

“We scored, then ground to a halt. The lads did well to bring the result home in a difficult fixture and to increase our lead at the top of the table. Wins like this send a signal.

“Sami Khedira is a world class player and he knows how to read the crucial moments of a match. That is very important, as in some moments you need certain players and at others you can change and introduce substitutes who can turn it around.”

Moves like this could undo Gattuso once again, a boss for whom like-for-like substitutions are the norm and whose style is very much geared towards keeping things simple. Yet the Bianconeri have wobbled enough of late that it is conceivable that they are there for the taking on Wednesday evening, and Milan have the right attitude to be able to do so.

“We want to win this trophy,” Turkish attacking midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu told La Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday morning.

“It would be fundamental for our growth and it’s something that would change the mentality and the whole season.

“It would change everything. The match in Turin and the one in Milan, showed that we can beat Juventus. We can do it. We had our chances, for example at Juventus Stadium I hit the crossbar. We know their strength well, they have great players but there’s a lot of quality in our group too.”

This should be a highly entertaining affair with a lot at stake for both sides. Gennaro Gattuso will have to be at his very best in order to overturn Juventus, but there’s really no reason to think that Milan can’t achieve the victory.

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