Juventus Stadium, Turin
May 5th, 2014
5th May- an iconic date in the history of Juventus. A day when the unthinkable happened twelve years ago: a Scudetto snatched from the jaws of bitter rivals Inter Milan on the final day of a dramatic league season in 2002 which cemented the date in calcio folklore. Last year Juventus won their 31st scudetto on the same date beating Palermo even though the finale was much less dramatic. Now they have the chance to seal their third title on this special date as they host Atalanta on Monday night.
Atalanta have had a strange season, so it is a bit hard to predict exactly what to expect tomorrow; their two best players are in good form, the club have won six of their past ten games yet they have struggled on the road. They are mathematically out of the Europa league qualification race hence any chance of them gatecrashing the scudetto party seems very unlikely.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Juventus will be looking to bounce back from the disappointment midweek as they could not break down a resolute Benfica defence and were subsequently knocked out of the Europa League. The past has to be put in the past and that’s what Conte will be telling his players. The wounds might still be fresh but a win will go a long way in healing the situation right now as that would secure a historic third consecutive scudetto.
With Vidal still nursing a thigh strain, Marchisio will return to the starting lineup alongside Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba. The preferred back three of Andrea Barzagli, Bonucci and Chiellini will start together after almost two months with Stephan Lichtsteiner and Kwado Asamoah taking up the fullback positions.
The emphasis, as always, will be to attack from the first whistle. Possession should be dominated by the home side and they will look to Carlos Tevez to open up the Atalanta defense in the final third.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Marchisio, Pirlo, Pogba, Lichtsteiner, Asamoah; Llorente, Tevez
Stefano Colantuono’s crew sit in 11th place well clear of the relegation zone thanks in no small part to the six straight victories they registered until the defeat to Sassuolo and since then they are yet to win a game. They have eight one-goal victories and they have conceded fewer goals per match than the league average. While on the other hand, they sport a negative goal differential, they are second to last in shots per game, they have been held scoreless ten times, and they have allowed more than one goal on 17 occasions. The center back pairing of Stendardo and Mario Yepes will face a tough task to shut out the Juventus attack. Yohan Benalouane and Del Grosso will take the fullback positions.
Atalanta would miss Luca Cigarini’s playmaking as he is suspended for this game. His position will be taken up by the talented Danielle Baselli who is a serious transfer target of Juventus along with Fiorentina and Inter Milan. Baselli should provide
quite a challenge for Claudio Marchisio and Paul Pogba tomorrow. He will be partnered in midfield by Chilean Carlos Carmona. Giacomo Bonaventura who looks set to move this summer will be looking to impress on the big stage as well. Ex-Juve man Marcelo Estigarribia will start against his former club.
The man bringing home the bacon in Bergamo is German Denis. The Argentine has scored 12 goals this season pushing his three year total to 43 and has shown a pretty decent scoring range through 32 appearances scoring from left, right and center. He is Atalanta’s prime threat, scoring nearly 30% of their goals this season. Azzurrini frontman De Luca will partner Denis upfront.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-4-2): Consigli, Del Grosso, Stendardo, Benalouane, Yepes; Bonaventura, Baselli, Carmona, Estigarribia; De Luca; Denis
Players to Watch Out For
The young French midfielder has been outstanding for Juventus this term and was in dazzling form against Benfica. His dynamic displays and mesmerizing ability on the ball and off it have been a crucial factor in the Old Lady’s charge at the top and Atalanta may have to devise something special to keep the midfielder quiet.
Giacomo Bonaventura (Atalanta)
Teams such as Juventus were linked with 23-year-old Giacomo Bonaventura during the summer and rightfully so. The Atalanta starlet made his club debut at 18 and has gradually progressed over five years. He has scored five goals in 36 matches in all competitions including a brace against Inter at the San Siro. Bonaventura, who operates best in behind the strikers, causes a nuisance for defenders with his terrific technique and vision. He is equally comfortable as a winger as well. He received his first cap for the Nazionale this past May against San Marino.
Juventus 3–0 Atalanta
Atalanta have nothing to play for this season and the last thing they would have wanted was a trip to the impregnable fortress in Turin. Juventus have a 100 percent record in their own background and everything points to a comfortable win for the Bianconeri and along with it the 32nd league title.
Blast From the Past
The first meeting between these two sides in the new Juventus stadium in 2012 was also played under similar circumstances; only difference being Juventus were already crowned champions before the kickoff. It was also the final game of Juventus icon Alessandro Del Piero for his beloved club.