Buffon bullish, Milan eyeing semis
Defeat to Napoli in last summer's final was the only serious blip in an outstanding 2012 for Antonio Conte's men, who went through an entire Serie A season unbeaten and finished the calendar year with a record-breaking haul of 94 points.
Juve may lead the current standings by five points but their resolution to outstrip last year's achievements began with an inauspicious 2-1 home defeat to Sampdoria, with Buffon taking the blame for the first goal of Mauro Icardi's brace.
I Bianconeri's bid for a tenth Coppa Italia continues with a daunting tie against Milan, who are on the hunt for a first final appearance since 2003. Addressing the fans via the Corriere dello Sport, Buffon said: "Unfortunately it was a really bad day and the team were not able to play in the way you are used to. Even I admit the first goal I conceded was totally avoidable. But a great team should be able to recover from this kind of setback.
"We will all learn from the mistakes we made to avoid repeating them and we will turn our disappointment into anger, the same kind of anger that saw us reach the top of the league. We must not forget that we are the champions of Italy and we have no intention of surrendering that title."
Resurgent Milan are eager to atone for last year's semi-final exit to the Turin giants, with midfielder Riccardo Montolivo taking heart from a 2-1 win over Siena. "We're happy with the result and three important points," he told Tuttosport. "It was a good Sunday that allowed us to keep pace with our rivals. Now we are looking forward to a huge challenge against i Bianconeri in the Coppa Italia. It will be very tough at the Juventus Stadium but we want to get to the semi-finals."
Lazio are Juve's closest challenger in the league and are bidding for a first cup title since 2009, when they beat Sampdoria on penalties. Catania, who have never reached the final, stand in their way and Biancocelesti head coach Vladimir Petkovic is out for revenge for a heavy 4-0 defeat in November.
He told the Corriere dello Sport: "We have a few motives to win tomorrow, in terms of pride and revenge, but we are also considering that there are just three matches separating us from the cup."
Catania boss Rolando Maran is suitably wary of Petkovic's intentions, telling La Repubblica: "We are meeting a confident Lazio side, galvanised by the possibility of winning Serie A. We would like need to repeat what we did to them in the league, but each encounter is different."
Next week's ties see Inter Milan welcome Bologna to the San Siro, with Roma travelling to Fiorentina in pursuit of a last-four berth.