Moments after Massimiliano Allegri stressed the importance of a Juventus victory in the context of the title race in Vinovo this afternoon, opposite number Edy Reja was discussing Atalanta’s battle plans for avoiding defeat at the hands of the rampant league leaders.
Having seen his team comfortably beaten at Juventus Stadium in late October, the Nerazzurri boss was in no doubt as to the scale of the challenge facing his team in today’s pre-match press conference and as such called for his men to approach the game with confidence, determination and belief.
The key to defeating the Bianconeri in Reja’s words is to seize the initiative and attack from the off.
“We’re coming up against a very strong side but the worst thing we could do is to approach the game believing we’ve already lost,” he said. “Winning tomorrow would be a real coup for us and we will only achieve that by playing with bravery and confidence.”
“The only way to get anything from Juventus is to play aggressively; given the quality of their forward players, they are always likely to find a way through no matter how well you defend. We must score at least once tomorrow ourselves if we are to have any chance of getting a positive result.”
While Reja’s side may well have been able to take a few pointers from Inter’s 3-0 normal-time victory over Sunday’s visitors in the Coppa Italia semi-finals during the week, the 70-year old coach expects nonetheless to see a very different Juventus at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri in Bergamo tomorrow afternoon.
“(Juve) have a terrific squad and will be able to recall some key players and shake up their line-up on Sunday,” he concluded. “What’s more, it’s very rare that a team like Juve has two bad games in a row.
“They are used to leading the way in the league and so are used to playing under pressure and with maximum concentration. There’s no way they will let those levels drop twice in the space of a week.”