Juventus v Atalanta

Serie A Week 9 –  Sunday, 25th October- 14:00 GMT – Juventus Stadium



With this game, Juventus enter a stretch of the schedule that will be crucial for their Scudetto hopes. In the next few weeks, the Old Lady will face Atalanta, Sassuolo, Torino, Empoli, Milan and Palermo, before Lazio and Fiorentina. None of these are gimmies, bu the squad needs to sweep the next six matches to mount a believable comeback.

Juventus come off two goalless games and this is certainly disappointing considering the firepower at disposal. Massimiliano Allegri is facing intense backlash for the lack of minutes for last summer’s reinforcement campaign poster boy Paulo Dybala. While I would agree that playing him ten of fifteen minutes does not do him any favour and there is a definitely a certain reluctance to start him, the Argentian starlet is the striker who has played the most minute so far, but he is also the only one who has not been hurt or in the doghouse for a while. We have seen the same thing happen with Stephan El Shaarawy at Milan, when it took Allegri months before starting him regularly and accommodating the tactic to make him perform at his best. Dybala himself has been mostly good, but he has not exactly shined when he has featured, so he need to step up too. But I think that this is not the main problem of Juve’s attack.

The principal issue is that none of the forwards’ duo has developed any chemistry. More than ten games into the season, we do not know yet what is the best couple upfront, the go-to one in big matches. While they have all scored, no striker has gained steam and started taking over games. We have seen very few hook-ups in the final third, I can not recall any circumstance where a striker assisted the other. I think this is a big part of the reason why Juventus can not create clear-cut chances in bunches.

This game is sandwiched between two midweek matches so we will probably see some heavy rotation. On Wednesday, many players seemed to have heavy legs. Stefano Sturaro has been used as right-back in practice in the last two weeks and he could relieve Andrea Barzagli on that delicate role, where both Stephen Lichtsteiner and Martin Caceres remains out. I am not holding my breath, but it looks like Daniele Rugani will have the chance to make his Serie A day view with a black and white kit, replacing Giorgio Chiellini. The battle between Patrice Evra and Alex Sandro to start at left-back is wide open.

As for the midfield and the attack, it is just a matter of who is the most fatigued and the substitutions, which will of course influence the tactic, will be made accordingly. The latest reports indicate that Juan Cuadrado may sit this one, with Allegri opting for the diamond formation. In that case, Hernanes or Roberto Pereyra would start in the hole. I think either Claudio Marchisio or Sami Khedira could use a day off, with Mario Lemina ready to replace one of them. I think that the coach will please the crowd and start Dybala. Returning players have often be fielded in a couple of games in a row to help them regain the right condition, so Mario Mandzukic is the frontrunner to start, but Alvaro Morata has a solid shot too. Obviously, if Cuadrado is not rested, we will see the 3-5-2 used in the last few matches.

UPDATE: Allegri has said that Cuadrado will be available but will not start. However, he could maintain the same tactic with Pereyra replacing the Colombian. Padoin or Sturaro will play at RB, but Barzagli has not been ruled out.

Probable lineup:

4-3-1-2: Buffon; Sturaro, Bonucci, Chiellini, Evra; Khedira, Marchisio, Pogba; Pereyra, Dybala, Mandzukic. 


Lichtsteiner (heart condition), Caceres (ankle).







Atalanta are doing pretty well this season and they look completely different from last year, where they have been putrid. They have always had more quality than the average low-table team, but they have not always been able to express it. This season, they seem to have made “not dropping points at home” their mission and they have pretty much succeeded so far as they have drawn only once because of a very late goal by Hellas Verona. They have beaten Frosinone, Sampdoria and Carpi at Atleti Azzurri d’Italia.

They are not as good on the road, but they are still frisky. They have lost against Inter in the stoppage time, they have defeated Empoli, drawn with Sassuolo and lost badly to Fiorentina, in game that was influenced by an early penalty with red card.

The usually defensive-minded Edy Reja is using 4-3-3, which is hands down the most suitable for the roster. After struggling defensively in the past season, they have made big investments and acquired Gabriel Paletta and Rafael Toloi, so now they have a very reliable duo of center-backs. They have been able to find a hidden gem in Marten de Roon, who has replaced brilliantly Luca Cigarini as deep-lying playmaker while the veteran was hurt and now he is holding on to his much deserved starting job. They are also grooming Alberto Grassi, a youngster who has a chance to become a complete midfielder in a couple of years.

Alejandro Gomez and Maxi Moralez are both playing as wingers and they are really their whole offense. Now that El Fraschito has become more comfortable in a wide position, there is much more spacing and room for the cuts by other players. The dualism between German Denis and Mauricio Pinilla has been drama-less and they have both performed pretty well and scored.

The only doubts about the lineup lie in the midfield. At this stage, Grassi and Kurtic are favourite to start over Cigarini and Carmona. Like in the previous years, we can expect a very physical team moving at a slow rhythm and try to make the opponent play ugly: Reja is all in all still an old-school coach. However, Gomez and Moralez are the jollys that add that little zing that spice things up and make them pretty dangerous both in the counters and attacking a set defense: they kind of act like playmakers on the flanks and they are both lightning quick. Pinilla and Denis are good complements as they are very capable of doing the dirty work, wrestling the defenders and finding the right position in the box.

Probable lineup:

4-3-3: Sportiello; Masiello, Toloi, Paletta, Drame; Grassi, De Roon, Kurtic; Moralez, Pinilla, Gomez.


Estigarribia (knee), Suagher.





Stats and Facts

Infographics from www.sporticos.com