Juve and Fiorentina renew hostilities

January 9, 2006

ROME, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Juventus and Fiorentina's intense rivalry should ensure their showdown for a place in the last eight is the highlight of this week's Italian Cup matches.

The two sides, first and fourth in Serie A, go into Tuesday's fourth round second leg at Turin's Stadio delle Alpi (kickoff 2000 GMT) with the score balanced at 2-2.

Their rivalry dates back to the end of the 1981-82 season when they went into their final league matches level on points at the top of Serie A but a disallowed Fiorentina goal and a penalty for Juventus packed off the title to Turin.

Many Florentines remain convinced that Juventus had bribed the match officials.

A crowd of 25,000 packed the Franchi stadium for the first leg last month - a huge turnout for the Cup, which routinely attracts crowds of a few thousand.

Their reward was a lively evening on the pitch, where Fiorentina let slip a two-goal lead, and off it. The contest was briefly halted when tear gas fired by police outside the ground drifted into the stadium.

For the return, Juve coach Fabio Capello could give a start to Alessandro Del Piero, in search of the goal that will take him past the club's all-time record of 182, which he shares with Fifties star Giampiero Boniperti.

Whoever wins will go through to a quarter-final against AS Roma or Napoli, who play in the capital on Wednesday (1600 GMT).

Though now in Italy's third division, twice Serie A champions Napoli still enjoy massive support.

Their 60,000-seater San Paolo stadium was full to capacity when Roma cruised to a 3-0 win in the first leg.

Roma coach Luciano Spalletti is expected to field a second-string side in the second leg.