MX23RW : Thursday, June 24 14:50:32| >> :120:12140:12140:
Dec 16, 2020 at 5.30pm UK at Juventus Stadium
JuventusJuventus
1-1
AtalantaAtalanta BC
Chiesa (29')
Rabiot (46'), Morata (60'), McKennie (80')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Freuler (57')
Romero (38'), de Roon (52'), Piero Gasperini (62')

Preview: Juventus vs. Atalanta BC - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Serie A clash between Juventus and Atalanta BC, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Still undefeated in the league and on the back of four consecutive wins, Serie A champions Juventus host improving Atalanta BC on Wednesday night in Turin.

Both teams sealed qualification for the Champions League last 16 a week ago and each followed up the feat by registering a comprehensive league win at the weekend.


Match preview

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring for Juventus against Barcelona in the Champions League on December 8, 2020© Reuters

In Andrea Pirlo's debut campaign in the dugout, Juventus - so domestically dominant over the past decade - have slipped behind the pace set by their Milanese rivals due to a frustrating propensity for drawing games against supposedly inferior opposition.

After comprehensively taking care of Catalan giants Barcelona last week - in a 3-0 win that saw them seal first place in Champions League Group G - the Old Lady's focus could turn entirely towards their hit-and-miss league form.

The 2020-21 Serie A campaign had brought both five wins and five draws for Pirlo's unbeaten side ahead of Sunday's trip to lowly Genoa, as they sat fourth in the standings.

Though it briefly looked as if the Grifone could become the latest unlikely opponent to share the spoils with last season's champions when they equalised in the second half, Juventus went on to secure all three points by virtue of two clinically dispatched Cristiano Ronaldo penalties.

Those strikes brought the Portuguese great's tally to 30 Serie A goals for the calendar year - despite the intervention of a pandemic-induced lockdown and his own subsequent infection - in his 100th appearance for the club.

In-form midfield dynamo Weston McKennie was also to the fore once again, as the USA international set up Paulo Dybala's belated first league goal of the season and had a hand in several more attempts on the Genoa goal.

Undoubtedly, the signs are that the Bianconeri's re-building job is slowly taking shape, with McKennie, Matthijs De Ligt, Rodrigo Bentancur, Federico Chiesa and Dejan Kulusevski all aged 23 or under. Whether, alongside several older, wiser heads, they can successfully defend Juve's league crown could well depend on the outcome of tricky ties such as Wednesday's.

Atalanta BC's Josip Ilicic celebrates scoring against Liverpool in the Champions League on November 25, 2020© Reuters

Atalanta got back to winning ways in Serie A on Sunday, dismantling an aimless Fiorentina outfit 3-0 after a winless November had seen Gian Piero Gasperini's side tumble down the table.

Only the familiar heroics of Viola goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski kept the scoreline down in Bergamo, as midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi capped his comeback from quarantine with a free kick goal in place of dropped captain Papu Gomez, who has apparently not seen eye-to-eye with coach Gasperini of late.

That capped a fine week for the Bergamaschi, as they had sealed qualification for the Champions League knockout stages for the second year in a row just days before. Luis Muriel's late goal in Amsterdam helped Atalanta to steal the win which guaranteed a spot in the last 16 at Ajax's expense.

With consecutive clashes against Juventus and Roma coming up, their apparent return to form could not have been better timed for a club that aspires to somehow repeat their significant overachievements of a tumultuous 2020 again next year.

The last time these two teams met in Turin, last July, it ended in a 2-2 draw - with another pair of Cristiano Ronaldo penalties helping Juve salvage a precious point towards what was ultimately a ninth successive Scudetto triumph.

Juventus are unbeaten in their last 23 home meetings against Atalanta in the league - La Dea's last win was back in October 1989, thanks to Argentina legend Claudio Caniggia's goal. The Bianconeri have found the net in their last 35 Serie A games against them too, with 78 goals during that period.

So as ever, the Turin giants start as favourites but few observers would back against a closely contested encounter on Wednesday night.

Juventus Serie A form: WDWDWW
Juventus form (all competitions): WDWWWW

Atalanta BC Serie A form: LWDDLW
Atalanta BC form (all competitions): DWLDWW


Team News

Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci pictured on November 4, 2020© Reuters

Juventus manager Andrea Pirlo could grant a rare rest to versatile Brazilian Alex Sandro on Wednesday, with countryman Danilo returning to a four-man defence alongside Juan Cuadrado and Leonardo Bonucci, while veterans Giorgio Chiellini and Merih Demiral are still sidelined.

Another Selecao star, Arthur - rested at the weekend - should return in midfield, with Dejan Kulusevski and Aaron Ramsey likely to start too, after being named among the substitutes against Genoa.

Alvaro Morata is expected to form the front pairing with Cristiano Ronaldo, while Paulo Dybala returns to the bench.

Against Fiorentina on Sunday, Atalanta's Josip Ilicic, Mario Pasalic, Mattia Caldara and Aleksei Miranchuk were all out of action, while playmaker Papu Gomez was dropped due to an ongoing dispute with boss Gian Piero Gasperini.

If fit, Gasperini is expected to bring Ilicic back in as Duvan Zapata's attacking partner in a 3-5-2, while the future of Gomez remains uncertain so Ruslan Malinovskyi can keep a spot in the first XI.

Juventus possible starting lineup:
Szczesny; Cuadrado, De Ligt, Bonucci, Danilo; Kulusevski, Arthur, Rabiot, Ramsey; Morata, Ronaldo

Atalanta BC possible starting lineup:
Gollini; Toloi, Djimsiti, Romero; Hateboer, De Roon, Freuler, Gosens; Malinovskyi; Ilicic, Zapata


SM words green background

We say: Juventus 2-1 Atalanta BC

After finally shaking off their malaise to record a famous triumph at Anfield and now back-to-back wins, Atalanta travel to Turin in reasonable hope of an upset.

However, Andrea Pirlo's side also look to be clicking into gear and can continue their momentum going into a packed programme ahead of the winter break.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home/Away:data


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Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo warms up ahead of his side's Champions League match on November 4, 2020
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1 38287389355491
2 38247774413379
3 38239690474378
4 38239677383978
5 38245986414577
6 38215126155668
7 381881268581062
8 381711106456862
9 38157165254-252
10 381112154648-245
11 381012164758-1142
12 381011175165-1441
13 38913164759-1240
14 381010184258-1640
15 38912175272-2039
16 38910194359-1637
17 38716155069-1937
18 38712194075-3533
19 3865274592-4723
20 38311243983-4420

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