Juventus will face one of their sternest tests of the remaining Serie A schedule when they welcome Atalanta to Turin tomorrow. The Bianconeri let slip a two-goal lead and a chance to go ten points clear of Lazio at the top of the table in a humbling loss to AC Milan, and will need to bounce back with a win to keep their seven point cushion above the Roman side who host a tricky Sassuolo before Juve’s game kicks off.
Manager Maurizio Sarri paid tribute to La Dea who are one of the most form teams on the planet, scoring freely and buoyed by the news from the Champions League draw that gives them a relatively easier path to the Final than the Bianconeri.
“It’s an important phase of the season and Atalanta are doing very well, they have a great record, especially away from home.
“They’re a difficult team to face.”
Paulo Dybala has in turn been Juve’s hottest player since the resumption of league action and missed the Milan debacle due to suspension, but Sarri insisted he couldn’t have prevented the ‘blackout’ that saw the hosts score thrice in a matter of minutes.
“He’s an extraordinary player but given the blackout that we had halfway through the second half, I would say we would [have lost with Dybala on the pitch too].”
Juventus face some tough to surmount obstacles in their half of the Champions League draw, with any one of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Manchester City among others lying in wait if they can overcome the 1-0 deficit to Lyon.
“Right now, we have only thought about the championship, then we can look at Lyon.”
Douglas Costa has looked most effective when coming on as a second half substitute.
“In recent games we have felt he’s an important addition to the ongoing games.
“Atalanta are aggressive and press high up the pitch. From the physical point of view, they have important speed. It’s a difficult match in all aspects and we must take everything into account.”
Sarri knows exactly what is needed to getting things back on track with his players.
“Consistency will be important. I see that at this moment, all the teams struggle in their performances over a lengthy period.
“I would like to see order, because in the moment you risk losing control of the game, it’s an important aspect.
“It’s time to look ahead, since the blackout came in the final period of the season.”
The manager also provided updates on defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Alex Sandro.
“They are different situations. Alex Sandro stopped for 10 days and therefore his return to the group is quicker.
“Giorgio had a different journey, he has some problems after the break because staying at home caused him some problems, he needs a longer recovery.”
Gonzalo Higuain came off in the second half of the previous game, his first start since resumption.
“I don’t think he was angry about the change, he played 60 minutes and it was logical to change. He’s getting better, he managed to do something decent, I think he’s improved compared to a few weeks ago.”