Let's be honest: even among those devoted to Italian football, there aren't many who care much about the Coppa Italia. The winner of the domestic tournament goes on to play in the Europa League, but these days it almost seems as though that's a punishment rather than a glory. Palermo, last year's runner up, took their place in Europe's second tournament this season, but crashed out before the playoff round. Granted, there are still clubs remaining in the Coppa that would jump at the chance of European play, but will they be able to beat the big sides?
Two clubs have already advanced to the quarterfinals: Juventus beat Bologna in added extra time thanks to a strike by Claudio Marchisio, while Palermo fell to Siena after missing three consecutive penalties. In the next two weeks, we'll find out who joins them.
Lazio v Hellas Verona (Tuesday, January 10, 21:00 CET, 15:00 ET)
Verona are the only non-Serie A side left in the tournament, and were unfortunate enough to draw Lazio at the Olimpico. Had they drawn, say, Cesena at home, the currently second-place Serie B side might be progressing to the next round. But with Lazio smarting from a 4-0 loss to Siena, they'll likely take out their woes on Verona.
Udinese v Chievo Verona (Wednesday, January 11, 17:30 CET, 11:30 ET)
The other side of Verona travels to Udin on Wednesday with little hope of earning a result. Udinese remain unbeaten at the Friuli while the Flying Donkeys are inconsistent at best. Chievo's typical tactic, to stop the home side from scoring, won't work so well in a knockout tournament. The likelihood of a Verona derby in the next round is slim, which is probably for the best.
AS Roma v Fiorentina (Wednesday, January 11, 20:45 CET, 14:45 ET)
Hey, Fiorentina scored goals this weekend. Away from home. Roma have won their last three matches. Statistical analysis says...whoever cares the most will win.
Napoli v Cesena (Thursday, January 12, 21:00 CET, 15:00 ET)
If you think Cesena have more than a slim chance of surviving in Serie A this season, you haven't been paying attention. But surely Walter Mazzarri won't be foolish enough to use his first-choice squad, not when they're finally rested from the Champions League and playing well in Serie A again. Right?
Inter Milan v Genoa (Thursday, January 19, 21:00 CET, 15:00 ET)
The Milan clubs don't play until next week, allowing them to rest up for this weekend's derby. Both Novara and Genoa should be taking the Coppa seriously, but even so, beating the biggies at the San Siro will take more than a little luck.