Inter Milan have a cup specialist in the dugout and Romelu Lukaku is back firing just in time, but Fiorentina are desperate to end 22 years of hurt… FIVE talking points ahead of tonight’s Coppa Italia final
- Inter Milan and Fiorentina face each other in the Coppa Italia final tonight
- Romelu Lukaku has found form in recent weeks after a disappointing campaign
- Fiorentina will be looking to win their first piece of major silverware since 2001
Inter Milan and Fiorentina fans will descend on the capital this evening as their teams face each other in the Coppa Italia final at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
After finishing second and seventh respectively in Serie A last term, neither side has managed to kick on in the league this time around, but they have enjoyed impressive cup runs.
Inter have seen off Parma, Atalanta and Juventus to make the final, while Fiorentina have got past Sampdoria, Torino and Cremonese.
Now just one win separates them from lifting the cup, with Inter looking to defend their crown after beating Juventus in a dramatic final last year.
Mail Sport has picked out five talking points ahead of tonight’s highly-anticipated match.
Either Inter Milan or Fiorentina will be taking the Coppa Italia home after tonight’s final
Cup specialist Inzaghi
When Simone Inzaghi replaced Antonio Conte at Inter in 2021, the club hoped he could keep them at the top of Serie A after they had just ended their 11-year wait for the title.
But the Nerazzurri were pipped by fierce rivals AC Milan on the final day of last season, and they have been unable to mount a serious challenge this year, falling 20 points behind runaway champions Napoli.
Inzaghi’s saving grace has been his record in cup competitions. He won the Super Cup twice and the Coppa Italia once during his time at Lazio, and has already matched that achievement in his first two seasons with Inter.
Six cups in as many seasons is an impressive feat, and he could make it seven tonight. He has consistently proven that when it comes to setting his team up for a cup final, there are few better managers in Europe.
When you add in that he has also led Inter to their first Champions League final in 13 years, with his team set to face Manchester City next month, it is clear that Inzaghi knows what he’s doing in knockout football.
His presence on the touchline may give Inter the edge in what could be a tight game at the Olimpico.
Inter Milan Simone Inzaghi has become a specialist at winning cup competitions
Fiorentina’s 22 years of hurt
While Inter are used to playing in big games, Fiorentina have been deprived of such occasions in recent years.
They have won the Coppa Italia six times in their history, but not since the 2000-01 season.
In the last 22 years, they have made just one final, losing to Napoli 3-1 in 2014, but they are back on the biggest stage almost a decade later.
Vincenzo Italiano’s men will be desperate to make the most of this rare opportunity, and should feel confident after winning 1-0 against Inter at the San Siro last month.
Fiorentina have regularly seen their best players leave to join their rivals over the years, with Federico Chiesa and Dusan Vlahovic both moving on to Juventus.
But Italiano has built a team that has improved as the season has gone on, losing just two of their last 14 league matches, and Fiorentina will see this as their chance to end their 22-year wait for major silverware.
Fiorentina have not won a major trophy since 2001 but can end that 22-year wait tonight
Lukaku back on song
Romelu Lukaku’s second spell at Inter could hardly have got off to a worse start as he was troubled by a hamstring injury in the first part of the season, and then had a disastrous World Cup with Belgium exiting at the group stage.
But he has turned a corner in the final weeks of the season, and looks a completely different player now.
The 30-year-old forward has scored six goals in his last five league appearances, hitting form just when his team need him most.
Lukaku’s future remains uncertain, as he is due to return to Chelsea when his loan spell at Inter ends this summer.
It was reported last month that Inter were unwilling and unable to finance a deal for Lukaku to stay beyond this season, but he has since had a significant upturn in form.
Lukaku is believed to be keen to stay at Inter, and if he scores the goals to win them the cup, the Italian giants may have to rethink their summer plans.
Inzaghi faces a difficult call over whether to start Lukaku or Edin Dzeko alongside Lautaro Martinez, but the Belgian star can be expected to make an impact from the start or off the bench in Rome tonight.
Romelu Lukaku has found form over the past month, scoring six goals in five games
He has shown why Inter brought him back, and Inzaghi could start him ahead of Dzeko tonight
Italiano’s Napoli audition
Italiano has had a fascinating rise through the divisions in Italy after starting off at little-known Vigontina San Paolo in 2016.
He got Trapani promoted to Serie in 2019, and then led Spezia to Serie A for the first time in their history the following year.
Working with one of the smallest budgets in the division, he managed to keep Spezia up before Fiorentina came calling in 2021.
He took Fiorentina back into Europe last season, and they now have two cup finals in the space of a week to look forward to as they play West Ham in the Europa Conference League final next Wednesday.
His work has not gone unnoticed, and he has been linked with replacing Luciano Spalletti at Napoli if he leaves this summer.
Luis Enrique and Antonio Conte are believed to be the frontrunners to succeed Spalletti, but Italiano is also in the mix. He could push himself to the front of the queue if he can get the better of Inter and prove he is ready to compete with Serie A’s biggest clubs.
Vincenzo Italiano has had a remarkable rise and has been linked with the Napoli manager’s job
The start of something special
Inter won the Super Cup by cruising past Milan 3-0 back in January. While that trophy is treated more seriously by fans than the Community Shield – the English equivalent – it is still a notch below the trophies on offer at the business end of the season.
After facing one another tonight, Inter and Fiorentina will turn their attention to European finals, with the former trying to spoil City’s party in the Champions League, while Fiorentina will hope to beat West Ham in the Conference League.
Inter will be heavy underdogs against City, but could use the momentum of a victory tonight to stun Pep Guardiola’s men in Istanbul.
Meanwhile, Fiorentina have waited over two decades for silverware, and could now win two trophies in a week. They are in dreamland, and will be hard to stop next week if they get a first cup to their name this evening.
Then again, the loser of tonight’s match will then have to pick themselves up and move on quickly, which will be far from easy.
Inter and Fiorentina have the chance to kickstart a golden period in their history, and that is why tonight’s match can’t be missed.
Inter Milan also have the Champions League final against Manchester City to look forward to
Fiorentina will play West Ham in the Europa Conference League final next week after knocking out Basel in dramatic fashion in the semi-finals
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