Atalanta will look to move one step closer to securing Champions League football next season when they face Juventus at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday.
Juventus will play hosts to Atalanta on Sunday in what will essentially be a dead rubber for the Old Lady, who have already secured the Serie A title almost a month ago. They currently have a whopping 13 point lead over second-placed Napoli but will be keen on ending their campaign on a positive note.
This will be Massimiliano Allegri’s last home in charge of Juventus. The Italian mastermind confirmed he would be leaving the club at the end of the season. He will surely expect a long-farewell after helping Juve secure fifth consecutive league titles as well as four league cups.
For Atalanta, however, things are much more complicated as they look to seal their qualification for the Champions League next season. La Dea are currently sitting fourth in the league table with 65 points on the board. But, a defeat to Juventus will allow both AC Milan and AS Roma to get level on points ahead of the final matchday next week.
That said, Atalanta have been in excellent form, having won all of their last four league matches, including a 2-1 win over Napoli last month. Hence, they will be confident of their chances against Juventus when the two sides meet this weekend.
And here at the Hard Tackle, we take a look at both of these sides ahead of their crucial match-up in the Serie A on Sunday.
Team News & Tactics
Allegri could make a few changes to the side that lost 2-0 to Roma last weekend. He might also shift to a more reliable and attacking 4-3-3 setup, with Cristiano Ronaldo spearheading the attack.
Ronaldo will be accompanied by Paulo Dybala and Federico Bernardeschi, both of who will operate in the wide-attacking roles. It will be interesting to see how Dybala fares after a disappointing showing against Roma in the last game.
The midfield will largely remain unchanged as well. But, Juan Cuadrado could be the unlucky one to miss should Allegri employ a 4-3-3 setup. That means Miralem Pjanic will sit at the base of midfield, partnered by Emre Can and Blaise Matuidi alongside.
In defence, we could expect a host of changes being made by Allegri this weekend. Joao Cancelo will replace Mattia de Sciglio in the right-back slot while Luca Spinazzola will make way for Alex Sandro on the opposite flank. Those two will need to wary of their defensive duties against a sharp Atalanta attack.
Martin Caceres was given a rare start at central defence against Roma last weekend. But, he could make way for Leonardo Bonucci, who will partner Georgio Chiellini at the heart of Juventus’ four-man backline.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Szczesny; Cancelo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Sandro; Can, Pjanic, Matuidi; Bernardeschi, Ronaldo, Dybala
Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini will make a few rotations following a strenuous defeat to Lazio in midweek. Gianluca Mancini is lined up as the replacement for the injured Jose Luis Palomino. The young defender will be partnered by Berat Djimsiti and Andrea Masiello at the heart of Atalanta’s five-man back line.
Elsewhere, Hans Hateboer is a guaranteed starter at right wing-back. But, we expect the 25-year-old to operate in a slightly deeper role considering the quality of the opposition. Same can be said for Timothy Castagne, who will retain his place on the opposite flank.
Remo Freuler will form the double pivot alongside Marten de Roon. These two players will play a key role in dealing with the likes of Pjanic and Co. in midfield. Freuler, in particular, is known for his aggression and work ethic and he will look to cut off the passing lanes as well as offering defensive cover for the backline.
The attack will remain unchanged with Alejandro Gomez operating as the lone attacking midfielder. Duvan Zapata and Josip Ilicic will form the two-man offensive line, but we expect the latter to drop deep and support the midfielder when they get overloaded.
And finally, Pierluigi Gollini will start in goal ahead of Albanian international Etrit Berisha. The 24-year-old has been preferred to Berisha in the second half of the campaign, and it won’t be different this time around.
Probable Lineup (5-2-1-2): Gollini; Hateboer, Mancini, Djimsiti, Masiello, Castagne; Freuler, de Roon; Gomez; Zapata, Ilicic
- Juventus have won their last ten home matches against Atalanta in all competition.
- Juventus also have a stellar record at home, having remained undefeated in their last 20 home matches.
- Atalanta have drawn three of their last four matches against Juventus in the Serie A – since 2017, no other side have avoided more often against Bianconeri.
- Juventus drew their last home game and could fail to win two back to back matches at the Allianz Stadium for the first time since 2015.
- The last Atalanta win over Juventus in Serie A was back in 2001. Since then, they have faced Juventus more times(28) without ever winning than any other side has against a single league opponent within top 5 European leagues.
Player to Watch
Duvan Zapata has been one of Europe’s most prolific attackers this season. The Colombian international has been involved in as many as 29 goals in just 35 matches in the league this term. He is also coming on the back of a great form, having been involved in four goals in the last five games.
And the 28-year-old will need to play to his full potential if Atalanta are to salvage anything from this game. It will be interesting to see whether or not Juventus will be able to cut off Zapata’s offensive combination with Ilicic in the final third, failing which could spell real trouble for the Bianconeri.
They will also need to be wary of his runs in behind the defence as well as in set-pieces, given his aerial prowess – thus making him one of Juventus’ biggest threats in this game.
Juventus 1-1 Atalanta
It is unlikely Atalanta will be able to break their winless run against Juventus this weekend. But, their high-intensity approach could unsettle the opposition, allowing them with the opportunity to salvage at least a point. Hence, we expect a 1-1 draw in this one.