AC Milan travel to Torino to face Alessandria in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final on Tuesday night.
The Rossoneri qualified for the final four by defeating Carpi at home on the 13th of January, with first half goals from Carlos Bacca and M’Baye Niang enough to ensure a Matteo Mancosu strike was just a consolation.
Third tier side Alessandria have had a fairytale so far in the cup. They have won six games to get to this point, and beat Serie B side Spezia in the last game thanks to a late brace from Riccardo Bocalon.
The club from Piedmontese have showed great character to reach this stage, beating Serie A sides Palermo and Genoa, making it the first time in over 30 years that a third division side has made the last four.
Coach Angelo Gregucci spoke to the media after their win over Spezia, stating:
“We are proud to have reached the semifinals and to represent such a glorious city and club.
“Everybody has the right to dream,” he added. “Even I had a dream; I, a lad born in the province of Taranto, wanted to play against Diego Maradona in Serie A. That was my dream, and there I was wearing the colours of Lazio playing against some of the best players in the world.
Milan have struggled for consistency all season, and sitting sixth in the league may be looking to this competition as somewhat ‘easier access’ into European football.
In their last game, the Diavolo were twice pegged back with goals from Piotr Zielinski and Massimo Maccarone answering strikes from Carlos Bacca and Giacomo Bonaventura.
In the Lega Pro, Alessandria have performed well, sitting in second place with 35 points from 19 games, including 10 wins. They have somewhat faltered in their title hopes in the last five though, recording just eight points.
Key threats for Milan’s opponent include Manuel Fischnaller (three goals) and Brazilian Adriano Mezavilla, who has three goals from midfield. The main player to watch is of course former Inter-owned Riccardo Bocalon, who has ten goals this campaign.
The teams have met before in the cup, including in 1936 when Alessandria beat Milan 1-0 in the semi-finals. In 1960, Milan won 5-3 at the Stadio Moccagatta in Alessandria, with a hat-trick from Altafini.
Milan will be without Rodrigo Ely, Philippe Mexes, Alex, Diego Lopez and Jeremy Menez for the game, which kicks off 21:00 CET.