Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia,Bergamo
Sept 28th, 2014
Juventus travel to Bergamo to take on a stuttering Atalanta on Saturday evening. Massimillliano Allegri’s side have made a perfect start to their new campaign and are yet to concede a goal so far. Considering the absence of first team starters like Andrea Pirlo and Andrea Barzagli, the lively beginning to the season has surprised many. Juventus will have one eye on the away trip to Vicente Calderon on Wednesday but will be equally aware of the tough task ahead of them in this game at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia.
Atalanta are traditionally very strong at home but surprisingly they have registered only one point out of a possible six so far this season. The 1-0 loss against Fiorentina in match week 3 was a particularly poor result as they looked listless on the field against a relatively inexperienced La Viola outfit. Stefano Colantuono will be rallying his troops for this tough task and will be well aware of the monumental task ahead of them tomorrow.
Team news and tactical brief
Atalanta have made an indifferent start to the new season picking up only one win out of the four games played. They were comprehensively outplayed against Inter Milan on Wednesday and the task does not get any easier as they host the champions now. Stefano Colantuono knows that his side are firmly the underdogs here but another defeat could create some pressure even this early on in the season. Marco Sportiello who saved a Rodrigo Palacio penalty midweek will continue in goal. The center-back pair of Guiseppe Biava and Nicolò Cherubin will have their toughest test so far this season against a solid Juventus frontline. Davide Zappacosta has earned rave reviews following his steady performances with the Under-21 side and Juventus are reportedly interested in acquiring his services for the upcoming season. He has been a regular fixture in the Nerazzuri lineup so far this season and he will be a starter again this Saturday. Senegal international Boukary Drame who joined from Chievo in the summer will start in the left-back position.
Ex-Juventus winger Marcelo Estigarribia will be lining up against his old team on Saturday. The tricky Paraguayan winger could prove a handful for Asamoah and he will have to keep an eye on him as Estigarribia could cause problems on the field. Daniele Baselli has been touted by many as a natural regista capable of filling Andrea Pirlo’s boots in the future. He will be up against a really strong looking midfield on Saturday and this will be a major test of his credentials. Chilean international Carlos Carmona will start alongside Baselli in midfield. If Atalanta are to create a major upset this weekend then much will depend on how Alejandro Papu Gomez performs. The lively Argentine winger had many successful seasons at Catania before his move to Ukraine which did not pan out exactly the way he would have thought. However, he is back in Italy and while he has still not rediscovered his old form, Gomez on his day can prove to be a really dangerous option for his side. Colantuono will be hoping that his enigmatic winger is back to his brilliant best against the champions. Upfront Richmond Boakye who is on loan from Juventus will be hoping to put on an impressive display against his parent side while his strike partner German Denis, who was on the bench against Inter on Wednesday, will be looking to get off the mark in this new campaign in his first start this season.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-4-2): Sportiello (GK); Zappacosta, Biava, Cherubin, Drame; Estigarribia, Baselli, Carmona, Gomez; Boakye, Denis
Juventus head coach Massimilliano Allegri categorically denied the idea of resting his key players ahead of the midweek Champions League game and he will bring back his main players for this tricky test. Andrea Barzagli was not summoned for this game but his recovery from injury has been going on pretty steadily. Martin Caceres is expected to start against Atletico Madrid midweek so Angelo Ogbonna will retain his place on the right side of the back three. Even though he is left-footed, the former Torino captain has performed admirably against AC Milan and Empoli in this position and he should feel confident about his role although he will face a potential threat in the form of Papu Gomez tomorrow. Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci will be looking to keep up the impressive run of clean sheets along with the ever reliable Gianluigi Buffon in goal. Andrea Pirlo will take part in a friendly game on Sunday after which his situation will be assessed carefully. But his absence has been pretty much overshadowed by Claudio Marchisio’s brilliant start to this season. He has looked incredibly comfortable in the regista position and he will be expected to be the driving force again this game.
Arturo Vidal is not 100 percent fit but still he scored a brace against Cesena on Wednesday. Allegri claimed the Chilean would be regaining his sharpness slowly in training and by starting these games for the team. He is expected to start alongside Frenchman Paul Pogba who was rested midweek but will be back as the starter in midfield. Kwado Asamoah is expected to return as well in place of Patrice Evra while Stephan Lichtsteiner will be on the field from the first minute as Romulo,who was expected to start tomorrow, misses out with an injury. Allegri dropped a strong hint that Spanish striker Alvaro Morata will be making his debut against Atalanta. He had an unfortunate start to his career in Turin but displayed enough quality in his substitute appearances to suggest that he has what it takes to make the difference in this level. Carlos Tevez was rested midweek but he will be looking to continue his explosive start to the new campaign by adding to the 4 goals he has already banged in. The Argentine was once again overlooked in the national team but that disappointment should not be an obstacle for El Apache to drive Juventus towards a vital win in Bergamo.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-2): Buffon(GK); Chiellini, Bonucci, Ogbonna;Lichtsteiner, Asamoah, Marchisio, Pogba, Vidal; Morata, Tevez
Players to Watch Out For
Arturo Vidal (Juventus)
Arturo Vidal opened his account for the season with a brace midweek against Cesena. The Chilean is still short of full fitness and has been carefully used so far by Massimilliano Allegri. The game against Atalanta will be his 100th in Italy. He has notched up 30 goals so far for the Bianconeri, a staggering return for a midfielder. A leader on the pitch, Vidal is simply irreplaceable and Juventus will be hoping he regains his full fitness quickly and help Juventus march forward towards more glory.
Richmond Boakye (Atalanta)
Richmond Boakye joined Juventus on a co-ownership deal from Genoa in 2012. He was sent out to gather first team experience firstly to Sassuolo and then to Elche in Spain. This season he is in Bergamo and has already scored his first Serie A goal. A good display on Saturday could have a positive impact on the Juventus directors who must settle the co-ownership deal next season.
Atalanta 1–2 Juventus
Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia is a very tricky place for any visiting side and Juventus would be well advised not to take this game lightly. A quick goal can settle the nerves better although this will be a really challenging test even after that. However, the strong defence which is yet to concede a goal could be the deciding factor here. Juventus are expected to scrape home with a win.
Blast From the Past
Juventus ran out 4-1 winners last year in this fixture. The task won’t be so simple this time one feels.