After winning their weekend Serie A fixture against Chievo, Juventus will turn their attention to the TIM Cup semi-final against Atalanta

Juventus will travel to the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia as they gear up to take on Atalanta in the first leg of the semi-finals of the TIM Cup on Tuesday night.

The Old Lady, who come into the game on the back of a 2-0 win over Chievo Verona in the Serie A, progressed to this stage of the cup competition, after dumping out local rivals Torino earlier this month and manager Massimiliano Allegri will be hoping to come away with a significant advantage from the trip to Bergamo, ahead of the second leg at home next month.

Atalanta on the other hand, ousted Napoli in the quarter-final stages, defeating the Serie A leaders 2-1 and have been in impressive form of late. They handed a 3-0 beating to Sassuolo over the weekend in the league and manager Gian Piero Gasperini will be keen on carrying the momentum into the game against Juventus on Tuesday.

The last time the two teams met, back in October last year, La Dea managed to hold Juve to a 2-2 draw at home and will be intent on doing one better this time.

Team News and Tactics

Atalanta

Gasperini has no fresh injury or suspension concerns heading into Tuesday night’s encounter. The Atalanta manager opted to rest key players like Etrit Berisha, Mattia Caldara and Alejandro Gomez for the win over Sassuolo at the weekend, but is expected to bring them back into the fold against the Bianconeri.

La Dea will set out in their preferred 3-4-2-1 formation, with the returning Berisha set to feature in between the sticks, while Rafael Toloi, Mattia Caldara and Andrea Masiello will form the three-man back line. They will have the task of keeping Gonzalo Higuain’s threat under wraps for the entirety of the game.

24-year old Hans Hateboer will take up the right wing-back slot, while Luca Spinazzola should occupy the wing-back spot on the opposite side. The duo will have to stay alert to the threat of Juventus wide men, while also trying to make a contribution to the team’s play going forward.

In the centre of the pitch, Bryan Cristante is likely to pair up with Remo Freuler to try and upset Juventus’ rhythm and stop from attacks building up. Josip Ilicic and Alejandro Gomez will take up the attacking midfield slots to try and provide support to the lone striker Andrea Petagna.

Probable line-up (3-4-2-1): Berisha; Toloi, Caldara, Masiello; HateboerCristante, Freuler, Spinazzola; Gomez, Ilicic; Petagna;

Juventus

The Old Lady will have to continue with the injury-enforced absence of Juan Cuadrado, Paulo Dybala, Claudio Marchisio and Benedikt Howedes for the crucial cup tie. However, legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who is fit again, is likely to return to his No.1 duties, and there could be a couple more changes in the side from the win over Chievo.

Buffon will replace Wojciech Szczesny between the sticks for Tuesday night, while Stephan Lichtsteiner and Alex Sandro will return to the starting XI in the full-back positions, replacing Mattia De Sciglio and Kwadwo Asamoah respectively.

The two spots in the centre of the backline will be occupied by Daniele Rugani and Giorgio Chiellini. Given that Atalanta will come out and attack, the Juventus defence will have a busy day at the office.

Blaise Matuidi could return to the starting XI in the midfield after being rested for the previous game, with Stefan Sturaro the most likely player to make way for him, while Sami Khedira is expected to feature from the get-go once again. Miralem Pjanic could be given a breather though, with Rodrigo Bentancur likely to take over the creative mantle from him in the midfield.

No major changes are expected in the attack, apart from Federico Bernardeschi coming in as a direct swap for Douglas Costa on the right-flank. Mario Mandzukic will once again start on the left-side to try and provide support to striker Gonzalo Higuain, who broke his recent drought with a goal in the win over Chievo.

Probable line-up (4-3-3): Buffon; LichtsteinerRugani, Chiellini, Sandro; KhediraBentancurMatuidiBernardeschiHiguainMandzukic;

Key Stats

  • Atalanta have scored at least two goals in their previous three fixtures against Juventus in all competitions.
  • Juventus haven’t lost to Atalanta in their previous 22 meetings across all competitions and have scored 55 goals in those games.
  • The Bianconeri have scored two goals at least in their last eight encounters against La Dea in all competitions.
  • Massimiliano Allegri has won a total of 14 games out of 17 TIM Cup matches he has taken charge of with Juventus.
  • Atalanta have scored at least two goals in all of their last five games in the TIM Cup.

Player to watch

Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)

Ready for action (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)

Ready for action (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

Having missed the last nine games for Juventus across all competitions due to a muscular injury, club captain and a legend of the game, Gianluigi Buffon is set to return to action in the cup tie against Atalanta. The former Italy international turned 40 on Sunday and many believe this could be his last season before he decides to hang up his boots for good.

If that is going to be the case, Buffon would be keen on signing off on a high and will want to do it with a trophy or two more in his kitty. And one can expect him to put on a strong display to try and thwart Atalanta from finding the back of the net, to ensure a safe passage to the finals for his club.

Prediction

Atalanta 1-2 Juventus

It is, by no means, going to be an easy game for Juventus, considering that Atalanta have given them a good run for their money each time the two clubs have clashed in recent times. However, with Gonzalo Higuain returning to goal-scoring ways and the presence of the influential Gigi Buffon on the field, we at the Hard Tackle expect the Bianconeri to earn a hard-fought 2-1 win at the Bergamo.

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