Snow hampers Juve, Milan Cup preparations
MILAN – Agence France-Presse
Snow permitting, holder Juventus will take on Atalanta in the Italian Cup semifinal second leg on Feb. 28 with AC Milan looking to complete its Roman conquest against Lazio.
Italy has been gripped by snow and icy weather in recent days.
Juventus and Atalanta’s Serie A game in Turin on Feb. 25 was postponed because of the conditions, with more snowfall predicted in northern Italy during the week.
The capital was not spared either with rare snowfall paralyzing Rome on Feb. 26, a day after AC Milan beat Roma 2-0 in Serie A.
Gennaro Gattuso’s Milan remained in the capital ahead of the midweek game against Lazio -- if it wins, it will be back in Rome for the final on May 9.
“Lazio are a difficult side to tackle, they are set-up well with quality players, we have to be careful,” said Gattuso.
Five-time winner Milan -- which last held aloft the Cup in 2003 -- was held 0-0 by Lazio in the first leg in the San Siro but has been boosted by Feb. 25 night’s win in the Stadio Olimpico.
Three-in-a-row holder Juventus is pushing for a 13th title and has a 1-0 lead from the first-leg thanks to Gonzalo Higuain’s third-minute goal in Bergamo.
With a vital Champions League last 16 second leg next week against Tottenham at Wembley, Higuain is unlikely to be risked after picking up an ankle sprain in the derby win over Torino a week ago.
Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi are also still out, with Paulo Dybala named on the bench before Feb. 25’s postponed game.
Atalanta -- whose only Cup victory was back in 1963 -- knocked out Serie A leader Napoli en route to the semifinals.
Milan is on a 12-match unbeaten run, including five wins on the trot in all competitions, and is now back in contention for a Champions League spot.
Lazio has won the Cup six times, most recently in 2013, and is also riding high after moving up to third in Serie A with a 3-0 win over Sassuolo over the weekend.
Both sides were unable to train outside on Feb. 26 because of the weather, much to Gattuso’s frustration.
“We’re a bit annoyed: Snow hadn’t been seen in Rome for years. We’ve worked in the gym, but I’d have preferred us to work on the pitch,” said Gattuso.
“We must recover our energy and think about our upcoming games. We’re going to play every three days.”