Atalanta game important for fourth place, says Juventus coach Allegri

Juventus' clash with Atalanta will be an important clash in the fourth-place race, coach Massimiliano Allegri said on Saturday.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.   -  Reuters

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.

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“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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