Atleti Azzurri d’Italia
May 8th 2013, 18:45 GMT kick-off
Juventus managed to retain their ‘Champions’ status as they sealed their second consecutive Scudetto this past weekend. Celebrations erupted in Turin as a slender 1-0 win over Palermo mathematically guaranteed that the Italian Championship would remain with the Old Lady. It wasn’t a surprise as the Bianconeri were heavy favorites going into the season and they didn’t disappoint, wrapping up the title with three games to spare.
Their opponents, Atalanta, are just one point away from the magical ’40 points’ target which is a usually considered good enough to cement a place in the coming season. That mark, however, seems elusive for the Nerazzurri with a failure to grasp a victory in their previous four outings. Their last win came at Inter when in a match that served up plenty of drama and entertainment. Atalanta came away with an extraordinary 4-3 score-line.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Colantuono’s side can see the safety line, it is within touching distance and although they aren’t in really huge danger of relegation, they will won’t to guarantee their Serie A status. But they’re form in recent weeks hasn’t been inspiring to say the least. Two points in the past four games isn’t really encouraging and neither in their injury list. Troisi, Cazzola, Parra, Budan, Marilungo, Brienza and Lucchini aren’t expected to feature on Wednesday.
Boss Colantuono should deploy a 4-3-1-2 formation. While they did have the bulk of the possession away at Parma, they failed to make it count. Inefficiency in front of goal won’t help when they host Juventus, where chances do come few and far between. Most of their midfield play will stem through Luca Cigarini. Atalanta’s dictator from the centre of the park, Cigarini, has proven to have an eye for that incisive pass.
Giacomo Bonaventura has raised eyebrows with his impressive outings this campaign. Rumored interest from Juventus has done the rounds in Italy for a player in the Claudio Marchisio mould. His step-up to a bigger club looks inevitable and he does receive the opportunity to amaze his potential suitors.
Up front, Atalanta’s top scorer, German Denis, will lead the line. With 15 goals in Serie A, Denis has made a mockery of the peninsula’s defenses. His predatory instinct coupled with his power in the air makes him a lethal target man. He should be partnered by young striker, Marko Livaja.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-1-2): Consigli; Raimondi, Stendardo, Canini, Del Grosso; Carmona, Ciagrini, Biondini; Bonaventura; Livaja, Denis
With the title done and dusted, Juventus can afford to rest a few of their bigger players. As Massimo Carrera pointed out in his press conference prior to the game, the fringe players will get their chance to impress. Players whose future is still clouded may want to showcase their talents in the final few games of the season. Players who possibly feel that they’re spot in next season’s squad may be in jeopardy.
The next target will be capturing maximum points from the remaining games. Fabio Capello’s haul of 91 points is well within Conte’s sights.
Paul Pogba picked up a straight and deserved red card for spitting on Salvatore Aronica during the Palermo game, he was handed a three game ban that sees his season cut short. His absence will prompt Conte into reverting to the 3-5-2 formation he has used for the most part of the campaign. Luca Marrone is expected to start at centre back. His passing ability and composure have allowed him to put in strong performances in a relatively new position for him. Yet, his age and consequent inexperience hasn’t been exposed.
Juventus will be aware of the fact that Atalanta struggle to defend set-pieces. Their aerial prowess or lack of, has caused them to concede quite a number of goals. Anelka, Barzagli, Asmoah, Barzagli and Pepe are unavailable for Juventus as they are nursing injuries.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-2): Storari; Caceres, Marrone, Peluso; Isla, Padoin, Pirlo, Giaccherini, De Ceglie; Matri, Giovinco
Player To Watch Out For
Sebastian Giovinco (Juventus)
Giovinco has blown hot and cold this season but considering the expectations of him, he has fallen short of them. The Atomic Ant is among the rumored players that could head out the Juventus exit door in the summer and against Atalanta, he will be offered the chance to impress and confirm his position.
Atalanta 1–1 Juventus
The form book only points towards one direction and that is of Juventus’. However, they may take their foot of the gas and with what is expected to be a rotated eleven, the points won’t come as easy as they have been coming. Atalanta might fancy their chances of an upset but a low-scoring draw looks on the cards.