In the end, it would not be doom and gloom for Juventus this season. They have lifted the Coppa Italia Trophy after beating the in-form Atalanta side in the Finals at the Mapei Stadium. Andrea Pirlo was overjoyed; Gigi Buffon would end his journey at Juve in style while Cristiano Ronaldo would not go without a trophy in this season.

Atalanta started the match brightly, attacking at speed and causing all kinds of problems for Juve early on. The defence and Buffon stood firm, however, and after the referee rubbished strong calls from their players for a penalty around 15 minutes in.

Duvan Zapata created the first real chance, using his strength to barge past Matthijs de Ligt before squaring the ball for José Luis Palomino, but the defender could not steer the chance home. It remained all Atalanta, with Zapata’s strength continuing to cause problems.

While Juve had done very little in the opening 30 minutes of action, the deadlock was broken by them.

With fans in attendance for the first time in Italy since March, it was Juve who took the lead at the Mapei Stadium, Dejan Kulusevski made no mistake when picking up the ball on the edge of the box after Cristiano Ronaldo drove at the heart of the Atalanta defence, and he curled it into the farm half of the goal.

Atalanta, looking to win their first Italian Cup since 1963 marinated their attacking intent to bounce back.

Malinovskiy, who scored the winner in the last league meeting between the sides, continued his remarkable run of scoring or assisting in each of his past 10 appearances with a trademark powerful finish to level.

After the break, Atalanta’s intensity dropped, with Juve having a great chance to take the lead, but Chiesa could only hit the post after latching on to a back-heel from Ronaldo.

But Chiesa fired home his 13th goal in all competitions this season in the 73rd minute and took his tally against Atalanta to five in all competitions – against no other Serie A side has he scored more.

Atalanta threw bodies forward, but they could not test the veteran Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, playing potentially his last game for the club. In the end, Pirlo’s team clinched a 14th Coppa Italia – five more than any other side – with ease.

There were jubilant scenes among the Juve players and staff at the final whistle.

“It was wonderful for everyone,” Chiesa told Rai Sport.

“For those who have suffered in recent months. We players are protected but there are people out there who have suffered and are suffering. It is a reward for the efforts made in these difficult months.”

This has been a very tough season for Pirlo and Juventus.

After such a disastrous season where Juve experienced an early exit from the Champions League and their fate for next season’s Champions League is at stake, whether Juve would continue with Pirlo or not remains a moot question.

Still, one must not forget in which situation Pirlo took over the job.

He just finished his coaching exams and was about to start from the grass-root level and at that point of time, he was offered the job of coaching the best club in the Italian Serie A.

It was a gamble which backfired but it would not be sensible enough to judge Pirlo by one season.

“For my first season, I have learned a great deal and then found these satisfactions that are very gratifying,” Pirlo told RAI Sport.

“Of course I would confirm myself in this role. I’ve loved football since I was a child and will continue to love it. The club will decide, but I love coaching, I love this club, and we’ll see what is decided. I would like to continue.”

“The lads have always been behind me 100 percent and that’s very satisfying for a coach, no matter what the gossip says in the papers.”

In order to qualify for the Champions League by finishing in the top four of Serie A, Juventus must beat Bologna and have either AC Milan or Napoli fail to earn a victory this weekend.

“The regret is that we dropped points against teams who on paper were supposed to be easier to beat,” Pirlo said of the current league situation. “Now we go into the final round and know it’s not all in our hands.”

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Judging his experience in coaching and the circumstances, Pirlo deserves another shot next season.

 

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