Juventus vs Atalanta, Preview: La Dea likely praying for a miracle

Valerio Pennicino

Tenth-placed Atalanta travel to Turin, hoping against hope they can emulate their blue-and-black brothers and secure a win over Juventus.

Inter Milan's loss to Lazio on Saturday evening means Juventus still have a four-point cushion at the top of the table -- but will they be able to extend that lead to seven? Well, in part that depends on Napoli, because if the partenopei beat Bologna, Juventus could, at most, lead by five. This is why table gazing so early in the season can make one's head spin.

Anyway. There's no way for Juve to lose their lead at the top, but the closeness of their competitors must mean they're anxious to give themselves a bit of breathing space. All that requires is a simple victory over Atalanta. Shouldn't be a big problem, as la dea are currently tenth in the table, and still having a bit of a problem finding the back of the net. They've got just 17 goals, 7 of those coming away.

The visitors spent midweek getting thrashed 3-0 by AS Roma in the Coppa Italia, but managed to beat Parma last weekend, 2-1. What must be at least a bit concerning to Stefano Colantuono is the way his side let the opponents back in the match: they'd drew level with both Fiorentina and Bologna, only to lose, and, perhaps less worryingly, conceding a goal late in the first half to Parma.

There's not a lot of evidence about Juve's ability to fight back this season. They came from behind at Genoa, and allowed Siena to equalize before re-taking the lead. But they couldn't get back in the match against either Milan side, looking out of options and -- dare I say it? -- a bit confused. A freak goal from Atalanta could catch them completely off-guard. Then again, it could make Atalanta drop their defenses, sending this match into some strange infinite loop of goals. Which would be interesting.

Of course, now the bianconeri have Antonio Conte back on the touchline, so should things wander off their intended course, the boss will bring them back into line. Either that, or he'll think of some excuse to use Alessandro Matri rather than Sebastian Giovinco right from the start. If so, this match could be amusing, simply due to the comedic relief of watching Maybelline contrive new ways to miss. Otherwise, it'll likely be dull and predictable.

Juventus Injuries and Suspensions:

Nicklas Bendtner (injured); Leonardo Bonucci (suspended -- perhaps Juve should pay for some acting lessons)

Oh dear, oh dear! What will Juventus do without their Great Dane?

Atalanta Injuries and Suspensions:

Daniele Capelli and Guido Marilungo (injured)

Match Date / Time: Sunday, December 16 at 3 p.m. local / 9 a.m. ET

Venue: Juventus Stadium, Turin

TV: Sky Calcio 1, ESPN UK, BeIN Sport USA

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