On Sunday afternoon, Atalanta BC welcomes Juventus to Bergamo, and the Gewiss Stadium hosts the meeting of two teams vying for a top four Serie A finish.
While Juventus broke a five matches losing streak to maintain their third place position, their opponents have been in great form lately, winning three games in a row.
This weekend, teams from the second to the seventh spot in the rankings will face off against one another in Serie A (SA), with only six points standing between them going into the round. The day before Atalanta takes on Juventus, AC Milan plays Lazio, and Roma hosts Inter Milan.
With three straight victories, Atalanta has totally revived their South American campaign, earning 16 of the remaining 21 available points (W5, D1, L1). Their resilience and tenacity were on full show in their courageous 3-2 comeback victory over Spezia in the middle of the week, but whether they can continue to outgun opponents remains a question after managing only one clean sheet in their previous 11 games.
The hosts will be aware that it’s not always about how you start but how you end, and their guests, Juventus, who last time out defeated Lecce 2-1 to return to winning ways after four unsuccessful efforts in Serie A (D1, L3), may feel the same way. Because of that outcome, the Old Lady aren’t in immediate danger of dropping out of the top four should things go wrong this weekend. This is because their previously lost points have lately been restored.
Although they have grown accustomed to sharing the spoils recently in this match up, with eight of the past 12 league head to heads finishing in ties and two wins apiece, Juventus would still value leaving the Gewiss Stadium with all three points. We could be in for a slugfest of a contest because nine of the games had goals from both teams.
Duván Zapata, a Colombian striker for Atalanta, has eight goals in his last 11 matches against Juventus, whose Brazilian defender Danilo will try to contain him. Zapata also scored the final goal in each of the previous two head to heads between the two teams.
Juventus will make at least two changes to their starting lineup at the Gewiss Stadium because Mattia De Sciglio’s season was interrupted by a devastating knee injury midweek and Leandro Paredes must serve a suspension.
On Juve’s right side, Juan Cuadrado should take the position of the former, and Manuel Locatelli is expected to make a comeback.
Dusan Vlahovic, who broke his goalless streak on Wednesday, is once more in competition with Arkadiusz Milik for the starting spot up front. The Serbian striker has four Serie A goals versus Atalanta to date thanks to two braces.
Luis Muriel, who scored Atalanta’s third goal against Spezia, might start on Sunday because Rasmus Hojlund is still sidelined due to a groin issue sustained during Wednesday’s warm up.
While his countryman Duvan Zapata has scored six goals against Juventus since 2013, no other player has more goals against the Bianconeri in that time. The Colombian has faced Juventus 17 times in league play without scoring a goal. As leading scorer Ademola Lookman is still having thigh pain, they might be paired again.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s back three may stay the same as Teun Koopmeiners and Marten de Roon from the Netherlands will be in charge of the hosts’ engine room because Jose Luis Palomino will also be out due to injury.
Atalanta BC possible starting lineup
Musso, Toloi, Djimsiti, Scalvini, Maehle, De Roon, Koopmeiners, Zappacosta, Pasalic, Muriel and Zapata.
Juventus possible starting lineup
Szczesny, Danilo, Bremer, Sandro, Cuadrado, Fagioli, Locatelli, Rabiot, Kostic, Chiesa and Milik.
We predict: Atalanta BC 2-1 Juventus
La Dea’s encounters with the Old Lady are frequently exciting, as evidenced by their 3-3 draw in January in Turin, and considering Juve’s recent struggles, the time may be ripe for Atalanta to score. Even though the Nerazzurri aren’t always at their best at home, they have enough cunning to overcome their opponents’ defensive strategy and win.