A crucial matchday in Serie A is upon us in the context of the title and top-four races as a stuttering Atalanta host Juventus on Sunday night.
La Dea, who once appeared ready to assault a Scudetto charge of their own after beating the Bianconeri in the reverse fixture back in November, have faltered in 2022. Injuries have taken their toll on Gian Piero Gasperini’s side and they head into Sunday’s bout without a win in four (in all competitions).
Atalanta’s last Serie A victory came against a COVID-ridden Udinese in their opening encounter of the new year.
Thus, for Juventus, Sunday is a massive opportunity to pull ahead in the race for the final Champions League spot. A historically poor start to the campaign left them with plenty of work to do to salvage their season, but an impressive run of form since the start of December now has people talking of the Old Lady as a potential outsider in the title race.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side have been buoyed by the big-money arrival of Dusan Vlahovic in January. The highly-regarded 22-year-old scored on his Bianconeri debut last weekend against Hellas Verona and he played a major role in ensuring Juve qualified for the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia at Sassuolo’s expense in the week. The super Serb is brimming with confidence right now with expectations high in Turin ahead of Sunday’s game.
Atalanta vs Juventus preview
Nevertheless, Sunday’s bout between two Champions League hopefuls is bound to be tight and tense. The stakes are high and here’s our preview of the Serie A contest.
How to Watch Atalanta vs Juventus
When is kick-off? Sunday 13 February
What time is kick-off? 19:45 (BST)
Where is it played? Gewiss Stadium
TV channel/live stream? BT Sport 1 (UK), Paramount+ (US)
Referee? Maurizio Mariani
Atalanta Team News
Duvan Zapata is expected to spend the next three months on the sidelines in what is a massive blow for La Dea amid their bid to secure a top-four finish.
Compatriot Luis Muriel could lead the line in Zapata’s absence on Sunday with January arrival Jeremie Boga expected to retain his place in the starting XI after scoring in Thursday’s Coppa Italia defeat to Fiorentina.
In defence, injury issues have once again arisen. Jose Luis Palomino and Giuseppe Pezzella are both doubts, while Juan Musso is suspended after getting sent off against Cagliari last weekend. Marco Sportiello should replace the former Udinese keeper between the sticks.
Juventus Team News
There’s not much to report on the injury front for Juventus.
Giorgio Chiellini and Federico Chiesa are both absent, while Federico Bernardeschi returned to training in the week. The Italian should make the bench on Sunday, but he isn’t expected to start.
Danilo and Wojciech Szczesny are poised to come back into Allegri’s starting XI after the pair were rested on Thursday. Paulo Dybala, Alvaro Morata and Vlahovic should make up a potent front three.
Atalanta vs Juventus Predicted Lineups
Atalanta: Sportiello; Toloi, Demiral, Djimsiti; Hateboer, De Roon, Freuler, Zappacosta; Malinovskyi; Boga, Muriel.
Juventus: Szczesny; Danilo, Bonucci, De Ligt, De Sciglio; Locatelli, Zakaria, Rabiot; Dybala, Vlahovic, Morata.
Atalanta’s Recent Form
Atalanta 2-3 Fiorentina (10/02) – Coppa Italia
Atalanta 1-2 Cagliari (06/02) – Serie A
Lazio 0-0 Atalanta (22/01) – Serie A
Atalanta 0-0 Inter Milan (16/01) – Serie A
Atalanta 2-0 Venezia (12/01) – Coppa Italia
Juventus’ Recent Form
Juventus 2-1 Sassuolo (10/02) – Coppa Italia
Juventus 2-0 Hellas Verona (06/02) – Serie A
AC Milan 0-0 Juventus (23/01) – Serie A
Juventus 4-1 Sampdoria (18/01) – Coppa Italia
Juventus 2-0 Udinese (15/01) – Serie A
This is a massive opportunity for Juventus and it’s one they can’t afford to relinquish.
While Atalanta’s heavy man-orientation out of possession will likely cause the Bianconeri issues as Hellas Verona did last weekend, Gasperini’s side are there for the taking. La Dea are not the potent attacking force they once were, with injuries in defence forcing the manager to adopt a less chaotic approach.
The absence of Zapata, the match-winner in the last fixture, is a big blow for the hosts, who’ll be relying on the dribbling magic of new signing Boga and Ruslan Malinovskyi’s threat from distance as a means of troubling the stout visitors.
These contest have been hard-fought in recent years and Atalanta have usually come out on top. On this occasion, however, I’m backing the Bianconeri to edge a tight one.
Prediction: Atalanta 0-1 Juventus