Juventus vs Atalanta
It was always going to be a party atmosphere in Turin but today’s announcement, which caught many unawares, have made this an even more important occasion for the ‘old lady’ of Italian football.
For this won’t just be a day of celebration for an eighth successive Serie A title, this won’t just be a day the players of Juventus get their hands on the Scudetto, this will be a day they say farewell to someone who has become a favourite son.
It’s understood when players were told the news that Massimiliano Allegri will step down at the end of the season (a title winner in each of his five seasons at the club), Cristiano Ronaldo immediately said ‘we’ll play for him on Sunday’.
That means there will be an extra incentive in this final home match in charge.
And that, us fans, spells bad news for followers of Atalanta, themselves desperate for the points in their quest to reach the Champions League for the first time.
Perhaps the runaway champions won’t subconsciously take it easy against opponents who are themselves reeling from a late defeat in the final of the Coppa Italia this week.
More still, they will be seeking revenge for being knocked out of the Italian Cup quarter-finals by Atalanta.
That 3-0 reverse in January and a surprise defeat to Ajax, also in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, are the only blips for Allegri during another successful campaign.
Looking back, it’s hard to think the Livorno native was not initially welcomed in Turin as Antonio Conte’s successor.
Yet he won them over by reaching the Champions League Final in his first season, not to mention the Scudetto again and the Coppa Italia.
Indeed, he went on to win 11 trophies on the Juve bench, including five consecutive Serie A titles, four editions of the Coppa Italia and two Italian Super Cups, creating many Serie A highlights along the way.
Allegri leaves with, so far, 269 competitive games under his belt, winning 191, drawing 40 and losing 38.
One of his mainstays during his tenure, Giorgio Chiellini will miss the match with a calf injury.
With speculation already begun on who will replace Allegri in the hotseat, his successor may also have another potent frontman at his disposal if reports are to be believed with personal terms agreed with Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Icardi’s ‘first and only choice’ in the event he leaves Inter this summer is Juve and the newspaper claims a five-year deal is proposed, worth €8m a season plus bonuses.
However, whereas the Old Lady would be trying to offer Douglas Costa in exchange, the Nerazzurri are demanding only cash.
True or not, Atalanta will have enough to worry about on Sunday without Chiellini or Icardi.
Boss Gian Piero Gasperini and his charges are having a terrific season but how they react to Wednesday’s body blow could well determine whether it’s Champions League or Europa League football next season.
A point here and the former is distinctly possible. To gain that they will need to stop a talented team which may show more hunger and emotion than normal.
As well as Atalanta’s cup success earlier this year, they also managed to hold the Turin giants in the league in December.
Then a Duvan Zapata double put them on course for a famous victory before Ronaldo rescued a Boxing Day point.
The clashes last season were also close.
Again, there was a 2-2 draw at Atalanta when they fought back from two goals down, courtesy of goals from Mattia Caldara and Bryan Cristante – this after Federico Bernardeschi and Gonzalo Higuain put Juve in the ascendancy.
The return match saw Allegri’s men record a 2-0 home success, courtesy of Higuain and Blaise Matuidi.
Overall in all competitions, Juventus have triumphed in 70 of their meetings, with 42 draws and 15 Atalanta successes.
|Juventus vs Atalanta||Juventus 1X2 @ 2.37|
|May 20, 02:30(GMT+8)|
With Serie A betting odds, if Asian Handicap betting is for you then take a look at Juventus -0.25 @ 2.06 or Atalanta + 0.00 @ 2.29.
Goals are expected with over 2.75 goals priced @ 1.99, total goal 2-3 @ 1.97 and total goal 4-6 @ 3.10 all on the table.
A repeat of the league meeting earlier this season – correct score 2-2 – will payout @ 12.00, while a rerun of the corresponding fixture last season – correct score 2-0 – is offered, perhaps surprisingly, at a slightly higher @ 13.00.
My gut instinct tells me Atalanta will be still reeling from their midweek cup final defeat and, while Juve may be reeling from Allegri’s announcement, they will also be determined to give him a fitting send-off in front of their own supporters.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:|
|= €20 (Highly confident)||= €10 (CONFIDENT)||= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)|
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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