A stoppage-time Danilo header earned Juventus a hard-fought point away at Atalanta on Sunday night to keep the Old Lady ahead of La Dea in the Serie A table.
A matchday billed as a potential season-altering one concluded with little changing in the context of the Scudetto and top four races. Nevertheless, Juve’s failure to claim all three points should clarify their priorities as we end into the stretch of the 2021/22 campaign.
Talk of a late title charge was always optimistic.
3 takeaways from Juventus’ 1-1 draw with Atalanta
Still, Juve are in a good place to claim a top-four spot come the end of May and we may look back on Danilo’s last-gasp equaliser in Bergamo as a crucial moment in the race with Atalanta.
It was yet another tightly-contested bout between the two sides at the Gewiss Stadium, and here are three takeaways from the 1-1 draw.
Dominant spells facilitated via pressing
Sunday’s contest in Bergamo oscillated back and forth as both sides enjoyed periods when they would’ve felt ‘on top’. Perhaps the most distinct period of domination arrived in the opening exchanges as Juventus’ press suffocated the hosts.
To begin, we saw Allegri adopt a bolder approach without the ball that allowed the visitors to establish an early foothold in proceedings. He deviated from his default 4-4-2 out of possession shape and stuck with the 4-3-3 that he deployed against another three-man defence in Hellas Verona last weekend. This structure allowed Juve to numerically match La Dea in the build-up phase. The front three engaged Atalanta’s three centre-backs, the midfield trio, man-marked their counterparts, while the full-backs had the licence to step up and stifle the hosts’ progression via their wing-backs.
This aggressive approach from Allegri paid off as Atalanta failed to find any rhythm with the ball early on. The visitors created numerous high turnovers and, as a result, several dangerous transition moments. However, execution in this phase let them down – hence why they only mustered a 0.7 xG.
Juve’s success at turning the ball over high up the pitch forced Atalanta longer and the absence of Duvan Zapata meant the Bianconeri backline was always going to dominate in the air against Luis Muriel and Jeremie Boga. This handed the visitors more of the ball amid a commanding start to the contest.
And while it didn’t take too long for Atalanta’s rotations and dynamism down the flanks to force Juve back, Allegri’s bolder pressing approach in a ‘big’ game was refreshing to see. The visitors would end the game with a lower PPDA (passes per defensive action) than their opponents (11.29 to 12.9).