For all the talk of a three-way race for the Premier League crown being exciting, over in Italy five teams are now vying for the Scudetto in what is fast becoming the most fascinating and fiercely contested title fight anywhere across Europe.
Inter Milan’s deserved 1-0 derby win over arch-rivals AC Milan last weekend means that Claudio Ranieri’s men have clawed themselves from a position among the dead men to fifth place, just six points off the top and back in contention.
Ranieri’s former club Juventus are the team at the summit and are enjoying a fine season. Currently sitting one point clear of Milan, the Old Lady are unbeaten in their 18 league games as they bid to win their first Serie A title since 2003.
On Saturday evening they travel to mid-table Atalanta, meaning coach Antonio Conte returns to the club he used to manage, not that Conte has many happy memories of his time with La Dea: he left the club in the relegation zone and in conflict with the clubs’ ultras – an unenviable position for any manager in Italian football.
So although Conte would no doubt love to get one over on his old charges on a personal level, more importantly Juventus have the opportunity to steal a march on the teams below them, who all play on Sunday, but a trip to Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia may not be as easy as it seems.
In bwin’s 3way odds Juventus are understandably favourites at 17/20, with the draw priced up at 47/20 and Atalanta the outsiders to snatch a home win at 333/100.
And after considering all the relevant factors, I think Atalanta are equipped to get a result.
Juventus may be unbeaten, but they have drawn eight of their 18 games and at the prices quoted, I would rather be on the 47/20 that the spoils are shared than any other result.
In The Old Lady’s nine away games, five have been drawn and Conte’s men have found goals hard to come by. Juve have scored just ten goals in their nine trips, drawing two blanks, meaning only twice have they scored more than one goal.
Defensively tight – they have conceded just six goals, three of which came in one match against Napoli – Juventus have kept five clean sheets during their unbeaten run.
Atalanta’s home record is alarmingly similar. Stefano Colantuono’s men have a 4-4-1 record in front of their own fans this season, their only defeat coming in their last match against AC Milan, and a record of just 11 goals scored explains why only four of their home fixtures have resulted in wins.
Yet a defensive record of just seven goals conceded shows they are a tough nut to crack and given Juventus’ lack of potency on the road, I’m firstly expecting a low-scoring affair.
The 13/20 that the match features under 2.5 goals should be taken – but I’m going to back the stalemate at 47/20 given the penchant both teams seem to have for sharing the points.
Correct score punters should look towards the fact Atalanta average 1.22 goals per home match and Juventus 1.11 away and take the 5/1 the match ends in 1-1 draw.
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