Serie A Preview and Pick: Juventus vs. Atalanta
Breakdown and Best Bet for Juventus-Atalanta
Both teams are hoping to hang onto a top-4 spot and both teams are hoping for a late run at the Serie A title as Juventus pays a visit to Atalanta on Sunday. Atalanta is slightly favored at home with a moneyline of +156 while the Juventus moneyline is set at +177. Meanwhile, the moneyline for a draw is the most lucrative at +269.
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A long run of Serie A titles could soon come to an end for the Old Lady of Italian football. With eight matches left to play, Juventus sits in third place, 12 points behind first-place Inter Milan. That will require a near-perfect finish to the season and a lot of outside help. In fact, merely hanging onto a Champions League spot for next season is the bigger priority, as they are just three points ahead of fifth-place Napoli, leaving little margin for error coming down the stretch.
On the bright side, Andrea Pirlo’s squad has six wins and two draws over its last nine Serie A matches dating back to a head-to-head loss to Napoli in mid-February. They also redeemed themselves with a win over Napoli two weeks ago and won soundly over Genoa 3-1 last weekend.
Even better news for Pirlo is that Juventus has scored seven goals in three matches since the last international break, getting five of those seven goals from players not named Cristiano Ronaldo. While it’s nice to be able to fall back on the best player in the world, it’s better for Juventus if they aren’t just waiting for him to save the day. Alvaro Mora has been key all season with eight goals and a team-high nine assists while Federico Chiesa and Juan Cuadrado have both been reliable playmakers this season.
Naturally, Juve also has the best defensive record in Serie A, conceding a league-low 24 goals in 30 games. However, things haven’t necessarily been tight at the back in recent weeks. Juventus has gone seven straight matches across all competitions without a clean sheet, which is an unusually long stretch by Juventus standards.
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At the moment, Atalanta is in a similar boat as Juventus. They are fourth place in Serie A, one point behind Juve but just two points clear of Napoli for the final Champions League spot. Also, if Atalanta is clinging to any hope of making a run at Inter Milan at the top of the table, they have to be perfect the rest of the way.
The good news for Atalanta is the club has not let a Champions League exit at the hands of Real Madrid impact its form in Serie A. They have won eight of nine Serie A games, with their only loss during that span coming against first place Inter Milan. Gian Piero Gasperini’s squad has made that run with a high-powered attack, scoring 23 goals over those nine matches.
As a result, Atalanta has the most goals in Serie A this season with 71 in 30 matches. Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata have both been reliable talismans throughout the campaign. Muriel has 18 goals, including a pair against Udinese in a recent 3-2 win while Zapata has scored four goals in his last three games, giving him 13 on the season to go along nicely with his seven assists.
Of course, Atalanta’s problem is they are not always reliable defensively. They have given up two goals in back-to-back games and held just one clean sheet since the start of March. That’s not a strong defensive record, especially with Ronaldo coming to town.
During the reverse fixture earlier this season, Juventus and Atalanta played to a 1-1 draw with a missed penalty by Ronaldo keeping Juve from winning the game. That penalty miss could certainly be on his mind during the rematch. While Atalanta can be dangerous on the attack, their defensive record in recent weeks is a huge concern, especially with Juve finding offense from sources other than Ronaldo. With Juventus still being the best defensive team in Serie A, they will find goals and be able to hold onto a lead, likely securing a competitive 2-1 win.