TURIN, Italy, April 23 (AFP)
Juventus and Parma meet on Thursday in a low-key Italian Cup Final first leg match with both sides likely to field second choice line-ups as they have their minds on other more important targets.
However a decent turn-out is assured with some 25,000 tickets already sold for a match in a stadium which is so frequently deserted by the Juve faithful that the Turin club recently floated the idea they may quit Turin.
The reason for both teams apathetic attitude is that Juventus are in with a real chance of winning the Italian first division title while Parma are perilously close to relegation.
Parma know too that they don't even need to win the Cup to ensure European football next term as Juve have qualified for the Champions League.
In fact the only star certain of a game on Thursday is referee Pierluigi Collina - the bald official is a celebrity in his own right in Italy and has been rated as the best in the world by world governing body FIFA for four consecutive years.
Parma's director of football Arrigo Sacchi admitted he had other things on his mind this week with the relegation battle taking priority over the chance of winning a trophy that counts for little in Italy nowadays.
"I am already thinking ahead to the Fiorentina game," admitted Sacchi when asked about his club's prospects for Thursday's match.
The club's French midfielder Sabri Lamouchi believes, however, that victory in the Italian Cup would help compensate for what has been a dreadful season for a club which is a member of Italy's 'G6' grouping of big-spending clubs.
"It's an important occasion because we can please our supporters and the club," said Lamouchi.
Juventus, while unlikely to permanently leave Turin, had toyed with the idea of playing the home leg elsewhere to please their fans nationwide with Palermo and Monza suggested as venues but in the end stuck with the unloved Delle Alpi.
But it is the likes of Nicola Amoruso and Uruguayan forward Marcelo Zalayeta who are set to lead Juve with coach Marcello Lippi likely to rest his top guns ahead of Sunday's showdown with Brescia with the 'old lady' now only a point behind leaders Inter Milan with two matches to play.
Likewise Parma will keep at least some of their powder dry for the match with already relegated Fiorentina, who last year beat Parma to take the Italian Cup, but have since been devastated by a financial crisis.
Yes it will, and I think that we have the advantage even though being 2-1 down on agg.
I must say that every year, people and teams seem to care less about the Coppa Italia. It is the F.A Cup of Italy, and should be treated better.
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