Coppa Italia is the national cup tournament which is annually held similar to FA Cup, Coupe de France, DFB Pokal and Copa Del Rey. The winners shall be awarded a ticket to the second tier continental competition, UEFA Europa League, or Cup Winners Cup before 2000. In addition, they will be squaring off in Italian Super Cup or Supercoppa Italiana in the following season against the league winner. If the champion of this tournament comes from the team finishing on the top four in the final standings of Serie A league, then the berth for Europa league does not go to the Coppa Italia runners up but to the next highest team on the league table instead.
At the beginning, this competition was not staged regularly in each year. The first edition was contested in 1922 by the less well-known teams and won by Vado. It was due to the fact that the major teams had a row with FIGC at that time and founded their own tournament. The next edition did not take place until four years later in 1926/27 season. Yet, it was halted at the round of 32 because of the odd number of teams joining it. The third edition was eventually held in 1935/36 season and became the annual championships in Italian football till the World War II broke. Coppa Italia was suspended in 1943/44 season and had to wait for more than a decade when it resumed in 1958.
Coppa Italia’s participants are limited to only the clubs in Serie A, B and plus some of the teams from the third tier (Serie C). The format is all about knockout round with single-leg system from the beginning. The last four and the final will be played in Estadio Olimpico Roma or the neutral venue since 2021. There are two stages here. The first one consist of the preliminary round, which are only for the four lowest teams in Serie B table and the top four in Serie C table, the first round for 12 Serie A teams sitting on the ninth of the table and below plus the rest of the clubs in Serie B, and the second round. The second one is where the top eight clubs in Serie A start to play. This stage begins with the round of 16 onwards to the final. Before 2007, semi final and the final were staged in two-legged system.
Juventus is still the most successful team in this tournament with fourteen titles in twenty finals. The second and third ones on the rank are AS Roma and Inter Milan. The current Italian national team boss, Roberto Mancini and the world cup winner in 2006, Gianluigi Buffon are the record holder for the individual winner. Both have managed to lift the trophies six times. Mancini even did it both as a player and manager.
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The Italian Cup which has attracted approximately more than 5 million viewers on TV per season does have several historic moments. The first iconic one was when the competition resumed for the first time in 1958 after the World War and recession. Lazio clinched the title after beating Fiorentina 1-0 in the summit.
The next historic moment was between 1968 and 1971 when there was no regular home and away final game but it was held in a single round robin format. Torino won twice in this format, while Bologna and Roma did it in the other two editions. Then, it was the 1982/83 season when Juventus was able to make a comeback victory from two-goal defeat at the first leg against Verona. Paulo Rossi and Michel Platini helped La Vecchia Signora win the title. Another one was in 1989/90 season when Juventus failed AC Milan’s ambition to win treble by securing a narrow 1-0 win on the road. Rossonerro back then was the ‘Dream Team’ compared to Juventus. The other memorable final was in 1997 when the dark horse Vicenza snatched a 3-1 win aggregate over Napoli.
In the decade of 2000s, Coppa Italia marked the emergence of Roberto Mancini’s success as the manager. He clinched the title four times, 2001 with Fiorentina, 2004 with his former team, Lazio and twice in 2005 and 2006 with Inter Milan. It was also the decade of rivalry between Inter and Roma as both sides took turns to be the champions twice each. Nerrazurri did it in 2006 and 2007 while Roma won it in the following two seasons.
Last but not least, two notable moments in Coppa Italia was Juventus’s domination from 2015 to 2018 and Napoli’s victory on penalties in 2020 when the final was held behind closed doors against Juventus.
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