While the FA Cup is steeped in tradition and giant-killing feats, organisers of the Coppa Italia seem to go out of their way to prevent upsets.


In the Italian version, the top eight Serie A teams from the previous season do not enter the fray until the fifth round — the round of 16 — by which time any minnows have long since been eliminated.

Only 78 teams are allowed to enter in the first place, of which just 36 are from outside the top two divisions, compared to the FA Cup’s total of 736 which includes a myriad of amateur and part-time teams.

The chances of upsets are further reduced because of the seeding system, which is based on the previous season’s league positions and allows the stronger team to be automatically drawn at home throughout the tournament.

The result has been complete and utter predictability.

This season’s fourth round, played in December, featured 10 Serie A teams and six from Serie B, who all played away. All eight ties produced home wins and five of the six Serie B teams failed to score a goal.

The fifth round, an all-Serie A affair which finished last week, produced one single away win as Lazio won 3-1 at Torino and left two coaches calling for the competition to be reformed.

Attendances were dismal with holders Napoli playing in front of just 14,000 at home to Udinese and only 10,000 at AC Milan, who kick off the quarter-finals at home to Lazio on Tuesday (2000).

“I reiterate that the Coppa Italia in its current format is pointless,” said Atalanta coach Stefano Colantuono after his side lost 3-1 at Fiorentina.

“All the usual suspects get to the end, save for the odd rare exception. As a smaller or mid-table club, you have to focus on safety in Serie A. This way, it’s just obvious who is going to win.”

Empoli’s Maurizio Sarri branded the tournament “unsporting” after his side were beaten by a hugely controversial penalty awarded five minutes from the end of extra-time at AS Roma.

“If I’m going to be honest, this competition doesn’t interest me at all because it’s unsporting, there are teams who have entered in the fifth or sixth round,” he said.

“There are big clubs who only get involved now and play on home turf. I do not like the Coppa Italia at all.”

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by John O’Brien)