Juventus' clash with Atalanta will be an important clash in the fourth-place race, coach Massimiliano Allegri said on Saturday, with two points separating the sides in the Serie A battle for a Champions League place.
The Turin club moved above Atalanta into the final Champions League spot last weekend, but Gian Piero Gasperini’s side have a game in hand.
They meet in Bergamo on Sunday night after contrasting midweek Coppa Italia quarterfinal results, as Juventus defeated Sassuolo and Atalanta were eliminated by Fiorentina.
“Tomorrow is a direct clash for fourth place. It is important, but not decisive because there is a long way to go,” Allegri told a news conference.
“It will be a difficult game because Atalanta have shown in recent years that they can fight for the top positions, and for three years they have played in the Champions League.
“They will be very angry because they are coming off a cup elimination. We will require a performance of great focus, physicality and technique to take a good result home.”
Juve’s January signing of Serie A joint-top scorer Dusan Vlahovic has injected enthusiasm into a hitherto disappointing campaign.
The Serbian scored on his Bianconeri debut against Hellas Verona, and his deflected shot won their cup quarter-final on Thursday, while there have been encouraging early signs in his partnership with Paulo Dybala.
"Juventus were missing a player with Vlahovic’s qualities. Everyone benefits from having a reference point, not just Dybala," Allegri said.
"We are working with a different enthusiasm, but we haven’t done anything yet. We must get a result against Atalanta, then we will think about the Torino game on Friday, and then the Champions League.
"We must think one game at a time. This is a decisive moment of the season. It’s not the time to talk, but to act."
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