Coppa Italia 2013: Highlighting Overachievers in Italian Tournament

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IDecember 4, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 15:  Ricardo Alvarez #16 of Argentina looks on during player introductions before the game against Ecuador during a friendly match at MetLife Stadium on November 15, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The fourth round of the Coppa Italia hits the pitch to entertain soccer fans this week. 

Juventus, Napoli, AC Milan, Fiorentina, Udinese, AS Roma, Lazio and Catania, the top eight from last year's tournament, get free passage into the next round, but 16 teams will battle for the right to face them. 

With just one match to decide which teams advance, there is room for surprise victories and big performances from unexpected spots. 

Here are three players I see outperforming their expectations. 

 

Ricardo Alvarez, Internazionale

BOLOGNA, ITALY - NOVEMBER 24: Ricardo Alvarez # 11 of Internazionale Milano ( R ) competes the ball with Diego Perez #15 of Bologna FC ( L )  during the Serie A match between Bologna FC and FC Internazionale Milano at Stadio Renato Dall'Ara on November 24
Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

Ricardo Alvarez is having a strong year for Inter Milan. The midfielder has four goals and four assists in Serie A play. 

His performance has helped Inter lose only one match this year in Serie A play and sit in fourth place in the table. In this one, Alvarez and Milan will be able to dispatch of Trapani if they play up to their potential. It was just this season that Trapani was promoted to Serie A. 

Alvarez has proved to be a good fit in Walter Mazzarri’s 3-5-2 system. In attack, he is typically just behind lone striker Rodrigo Palacio. Alvarez's patience and vision have helped Inter to a high-scoring year. 

I expect Alvarez to make strong decisions, accurate passes and possibly add a goal in this contest. 

 

Luca Marrone, Sassuolo

GENOA, ITALY - NOVEMBER 03:  Luca Marrone of US Sassuolo Calcio in action during the Serie A match between UC Sampdoria v US Sassuolo Calcio at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on November 3, 2013 in Genoa,  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

In Serie A play, Sassuolo sit just three points behind their opponent, Atalanta. This figures to be a close contest.

Despite the deficit, however, it was Sassuolo that triumphed 2-0 when these two met less than two weeks ago. Luca Marrone was a big reason why Sassuolo won that day, and he will be again in this one.

Like most of Sassuolo's goals this season, the scoring against Atalanta came from Domenico Berardi and Simone Zaza. It was Marrone, however, who assisted on both, and in six Serie A games, the 23-year-old midfielder has three assists. 

Marrone is an exciting playmaker. Atalanta couldn't stop his playmaking skills on Nov. 24, and they won't in this one. 

 

 

Luca Toni, Hellas Verona

VERONA, ITALY - NOVEMBER 23:  Luca Toni (R) of Hellas Verona FC competes with Dario Dainelli of AC Chievo Verona during the Serie A match between Hellas Verona FC and AC Chievo Verona at Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi on November 23, 2013 in Verona, Italy.
Dino Panato/Getty Images

Luca Toni will enter this match right after what had to be an emotional affair against his former club Florentina. His side dropped the match 3-4, and Toni missed a few opportunities in the match:

The 36-year-old Toni is no longer capable of bringing his best every match, but he is still a very competent player. He has five goals on 37 shots this season. 

Toni has helped Verona to a solid campaign, as they sit in sixth in the table. In this match, they will take on fellow Seria A side Sampdoria. 

That is the same Sampdoria that Verona beat 2-0 on October 30. Toni picked up a goal in that one, and I expect him to add a goal in this one. 

Toni will be motivated to erase the sting of his last outing.