Juventus Stadium, Turin
May 13th 2012, 13:00 GMTKick-off
It will be a night of celebration for newly anointed Serie A champions Juventus as they host Atalanta at the Juventus Stadium in Turin. It also could just be Alessandro Del Piero’s farewell home game in what will definitely be an emotional night for one of Italian Football’s all time greats. Having secured the Scudetto with an insurmountable four point lead at the top table, Sunday will be a time for celebration in Turin.
For Atalanta, it’s been an excellent season as well. Having started off the campaign with a six point deduction and the loss of inspirational captain Cristiano Doni, following the match-fixing charges levied on them, the Nerazzurri have defied all odds and sit in a respectable 11th place currently.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Antonio Conte will stick with his successful 3-5-2 formation. The manager has managed to bring out the best in Leo Bonucci of late in this formation. The former Bari defender initially struggled during this campaign but found his feet during the crucial latter stages of the season. He provided a wonderful lobbed assist for Mirko Vucinic against Cagliari last weekend showcasing his ball playing skills from deep. Alongside him will be the ever present and sturdy duo of Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini.
Simone Padoin is expected to face his old side for the first time since joining Juventus in the January transfer window. He will reportedly replace midfield machine Arturo Vidal who is suspended for this game. Andrea Pirlo will dictate the tempo from the centre of midfield like he has done so consistently well this season. Simone Pepe is expected to retain his spot at left wing-back. The former Roma midfielder put in a good shift against Cagliari and bombed forward in support of the attack whenever he was given the opportunity to do so.
The attack is expected to comprise of Mirko Vucinic and Alex Del Piero. Il Pinturicchio is expected to play his last game for Juventus after Andrea Agnelli announced earlier in the season that the captain won’t be given an extension. Del Piero has played his part during Juventus’ success this season with vital goals after coming off the bench. Expect him to be at the heart of everything good Juventus do in attack as they try to breach the Atalanta defense.
Probable Starting Lineup (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Padoin, Pirlo, Marchisio, Pepe; Del Piero, Vucinic
After going through the turmoil of the whole match-fixing scandal, Atalanta fans will be more than content with how their season has progressed. Having overcome a 6 point deduction, the Nerazzurri now have the chance to finish in the top half of the table, which is no mean feat given that pundits out there jotted them down as potential relegation contenders.
Boss Colantuono has gained plaudits for the way he has managed his side this campaign. His 4-4-1-1 formation has served him well and managed to bring out the best in a very close group of players. Scheotto on the right wing has caught the eye of many top clubs and has already won him comparisons with former Juventus winger Mauro Camoranesi due to their similar looks and Argentine heritage. Serie A’s forgotten play-maker Luca Cigarini once hailed as the next Andrea Pirlo (like many others) has re-emerged this campaign in the middle of the Atalanta midfield. His partner in crime Matteo Brighi though is out for this game through injury.
Diminutive playmaker Maxi Moralez will play in the hole just behind hit-man German Denis in attack. Moralez too has been central to Atalanta’s success, especially early on in the season when he looked in menacing form. The onus will fall on his shoulders to try and conjure up something for his fellow attackers to feed on during the course of the game. Of course trying to break through an almost impenetrable Juventus defense remains an uphill task.
Colantuno does have a few injury concerns to contend with as Carmona, Marilungo, Capelli, Consigli are all on the treatment table while Stendardo and Doni remain suspended.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-4-1-1): Frezzolini; Bellini, Lucchini, Manfredini, Peluso; Schelotto, Cigarini, Cazzola, Bonaventura; Moralez; Denis
Key Match Facts
- Juventus are the only unbeaten team (in domestic league) in the top five leagues in Europe.
- Juventus have the tightest defense in the league having conceded just 19 goals.
- Atalanta are winless in their last two games.
TheHardTackle’s Players To Watch Out For
Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus)
It will be a highly emotional game as Alex Del Piero is expected to play the last Serie A game of his extraordinary career. All eyes will be on Juventus’ most beloved son as he steps on the field for possibly the last time at home.
German Denis (Atalanta)
With 16 goals to his name this Serie A campaign, Atalanta’s powerful striker German Denis has been a huge part of their success this season. He looks the most likely candidate to ruin Juventus’ Scudetto party.
Juventus 2-0 Atalanta
Despite having the Scudetto in their bag, Juventus will look to finish off this outstanding season, unbeaten. A win for the home side does look probable and a goal from Alessandro Del Piero would just be the icing on the cake.
TheHardTackle’s Blast From The Past