It has not been the easiest of seasons for Edy Reja’s side, who will be coming into this game having failed to pick up a win in their past five games. In fact, La Dea have not won a match since the start of 2016. The last time Atalanta tasted victory was on December 6th when they defeated Palermo 3-0; and at that point in time they were sitting in a pretty solid seventh place.
It indeed is a testament to how far they have fallen since then, and with just three points earned from their most recent quintet of fixtures, Atalanta will be desperate to arrest this downward trend. Sure, they sit in 13th, and are some ways away from the drop zone – but not too far enough. In fact, if they are unable to turn things around, it won’t take much for Reja’s team to find themselves in that dreaded relegation zone. And given that the 2015/2016 Serie A season is approaching its final third, this will not be the time for any team in the bottom half of the table to start dropping points.
Well, unfortunately for the hosts, Juventus will be keen on making sure that they will have to wait till the next round for that win that has eluded them since the start of this year. Although the Bianconeri were quite poor in their Coppa Italia tie – throwing away a three goal advantage to allow Inter to push the game all the way to penalties – they nonetheless have been in absolute imperious form in the league. No team, since Sassuolo managed to do so at the tail end of October, has been able to beat La Vecchia Signora, and to date, Bologna are still the only outfit to manage to prevent them from claiming all three points.
Massimiliano Allegri, who had quite a few key players missing for the mid-week Coppa Italia tie, will be definitely fielding his strongest line-up possible. Although Giorgio Chiellini is still out injured, Claudio Marchisio will make his return after missing the past week following an injury against Bayern Munich. Mario Mandzukic is another who was rested for the Coppa Italia game, and expect the tall Croatian to resume his position in the starting XI alongside Paulo Dybala, who was also given the night off. Neto will make way, of course, for Gianluigi Buffon in between the posts. And due to the injury to Chiellini, young defender Daniele Rugani will again get a chance to start from the beginning alongside Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci.
Juventus have long enjoyed the head-to-head record between these two sides and have won their past 11 meetings against Atalanta. The last time that the hosts were even able to pick up a point was on May 17, 2009, when they held the Turin giants to a 2-2 stalemate; and one would have to go all the way back to February 3, 2001 to note when Atalanta were able to earn a victory over the Bianconeri.
Indeed, it will be very interesting to see if La Dea will be able to thwart La Vecchia Signora for the first time in 15 years or if will Juventus show that their bad showing in the Coppa Italia was just a minor blip.
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