Juventus will face off against Atalanta in the showpiece event of the 2020/21 Coppa Italia at the Mapei Stadium on Wednesday night.
With the Serie A title snatched away from their hands, Juventus will be hoping to end the campaign with some silverware when they lock horns with a high-flying Atalanta side in the finals of the 2020/21 Coppa Italia at the Mapei Stadium this midweek.
It has been a largely forgettable season for Juventus under new manager Andrea Pirlo given that they lost the Scudetto to Inter Milan and crashed out of the UEFA Champions League early as well. In fact, the Bianconeri could end up missing out on Champions League football next season as they are sitting outside the top for in Serie A currently.
So, a Coppa Italia triumph, after they had faced defeat in the finals last year, could ease some of the pain of a dismal campaign. Juventus made it to this stage of the competition by seeing off challenges from Genoa and SPAL before beating Inter Milan over two legs in the semi-final.
As for Atalanta, it has been another dream campaign under Gian Piero Gasperini. La Dea are currently second in the league table and look prime for a top four finish and a spot in the UEFA Champions League for next season. And the Coppa Italia success would be cherry on top for the side, as they chase only the second-ever major trophy in the history of the club.
Atalanta eased past Cagliari in the Round of 16 of Coppa Italia but were made to work by Lazio in the quarter-final before they beat Napoli 3-1 in the penultimate stages of the competition to set up a date with Juventus.
Juventus and Atalanta have clashed twice already this season in the league with the first game ending in a 1-1 draw while the second saw La Dea eke out a narrow 1-0 win over the Bianconeri. Ahead of their latest meeting in this blockbuster Coppa Italia final on Wednesday night, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
— Atalanta B.C. (@Atalanta_BC) May 18, 2021
Heading into the game, Atalanta have no injury or suspension concerns, meaning Gian Piero Gasperini will have a full-strength squad at his disposal on Wednesday night. The Italian tactician will line his team up in a 3-5-2 formation with La Dea set to take the game to Juventus with their intense pressing and relentless attacking.
Pierluigi Gollini will be the man guarding the goal for Atalanta on Wednesday night, with the protection coming from Rafael Toloi, Cristian Romero and Jose Luis Palomino, who ought to form the three-man defensive unit.
Hans Hateboer ought to edge out Joakim Maehle for the right wing-back slot while Robin Gosens is a certainty on the left. The German international, though, will have his task cut out against Juan Cuadrado, who will look to push forward and exploit any spaces in behind. Marten de Roon and Remo Freuler will be key in the middle of the park as they will hound the Juventus stars to force quick turnovers and initiate attacks.
Apart from the dangerous Gosens, the creative onus will lie on the two attacking midfielders in Matteo Pessina and Ruslan Malinovskyi, who has recently been linked with a move to Chelsea. Duvan Zapata should be the man spearheading the attack for Atalanta, with Luis Muriel doing some of his best work after coming on as a substitute. Josip Ilicic is also an option for Gasperini.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Gollini; Toloi, Romero, Palomino; Hateboer, de Roon, Freuler, Gosens; Pessina, Malinovskyi; Zapata
Unlike Atalanta, Juventus will have to deal with a couple of key absentees for the Coppa Italia final. Key defender Leonardo Bonucci has been ruled out with a knee injury while Alex Sandro misses out of the squad due to suspension. Andrea Pirlo will continue to set his team up in a 4-4-2 formation, which will likely transition into a 3-5-2 when they are in possession.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) May 18, 2021
Club legend Gianluigi Buffon should get the nod ahead of Wojciech Szczesny in goal for the final. With Sandro ruled out, Danilo ought to move out to the left-back slot, which means Juan Cuadrado has to drop into a deeper position at right-back, although the Colombian will look to push upfield at every given opportunity. Matthijs de Ligt and Giorgio Chiellini are obvious picks at the heart of the Bianconeri defence.
Weston McKennie is likely to start on the right flank, although the USMNT international will regularly drift into central positions to open up space for Cuadrado to run on the flanks. Adrien Rabiot and Rodrigo Bentancur have been the preferred partnership in midfield of late and should be retained. They will be key to Juventus being able to withstand Atalanta’s aggressive press.
Federico Chiesa should slot in on the left from where he will be direct in his approach and look to create opportunities for the two forwards, who are likely to be Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala, with Alvaro Morata and Dejan Kulusevski being options on the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Buffon; Cuadrado, de Ligt, Chiellini, Danilo; McKennie, Bentancur, Rabiot, Chiesa; Dybala, Ronaldo
- Juventus and Atalanta have previously clashed 16 times in the Coppa Italia, with the former winning six and the latter coming out on top in four (D6).
- Atalanta won the last match played against Juventus (1-0 in Serie A). La Dea have never achieved two consecutive wins against the Bianconeri in all competitions, since 1929/30.
- Juventus will play their 20th Coppa Italia final and have so far lifted the trophy on 13 occasions, both records in the competition.
- Atalanta have reached the final in two of the last three editions of the Coppa Italia, having managed to do so only three times previously in the competition. Their only trophy triumph dates back to 1963 courtesy of a 3-1 win in the final against Torino.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored nine goals in his last 10 finals in all competitions – however, he has failed to find the back of the net in three of his most recent five such appearances.
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The only trophy Cristiano Ronaldo is missing in Italy.
The Coppa Italia. 🏆
He has a chance to win it tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/U3ZdkKCjGu
— The CR7 Timeline. (@TimelineCR7) May 18, 2021
The man for the big occasion for Juventus. While the team may have had a disappointing campaign, Cristiano Ronaldo has once again enjoyed a largely successful season on a personal level, although he has had to deal with inconsistent runs every now and then. Nonetheless, an amazing return of 36 goals and 4 assists from 43 games in all competitions, at the age of 36 mind you, speaks for itself.
In what will be a game that offers Juventus to salvage something from a doomed campaign, the onus will be on the Portuguese maverick to step up and deliver, even as speculations surrounding his future in Turin continue to do the rounds. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, they say. Will Ronaldo rise to the occasion on Wednesday night?
Atalanta 2-1 Juventus
Juventus come into the game on the back of a hard-earned win over Inter Milan which came in the aftermath of another victory over Sassuolo. So, they will be in buoyant mood heading into the showpiece event on Wednesday. However, Atalanta have been in rampant form, outscoring their opponents with ease time and again, most recently doing so against Genoa in a 4-3 win.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s men are also currently on a ten-game unbeaten run across all competitions and have already managed to beat Juventus this term, not so long ago. So, despite the looming presence of Cristiano Ronaldo, Atalanta do have the edge ahead of this blockbuster encounter, which is why The Hard Tackle is predicting La Dea to win their second Coppa Italia trophy at the Mapei Stadium this week.