And then, on Oct. 25, 2015, Paulo Dybala completely took control of the Juventus attack.
Maybe we will mark this day down in history and remember it fondly. Or maybe we will just think to ourselves, "See? This is why Dybala should have the Juventus attack built around him, Max!" Or maybe it's just going to be a game that we point to as the official start of Dybala's record-setting career in a Juventus jersey. Who knows, really.
Whatever it is, I'm sure we'll be watching this wonderfully taken goal, the first in Juventus' 2-0 win over Atalanta on Sunday afternoon at Juventus Stadium, plenty of times in the future. Why? Because it's Dybala doing awesome things, and because it's just a beautiful, beautiful thing to witness.
Seriously, look at that movement on the ball. Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Sportiello is a pretty good goalkeeper and even he had no chance whatsoever. Pretty much every goalkeeper in the world would have struggled with that shot. It had just an insane amount of unnatural movement on it.
I feel safe in saying this: When Juventus shelled out all that money for Dybala over the summer, this was the kind of performance they envisioned would not just happen every so often, but be a regular occurrence. Dybala had one goal and assisted on Mario Mandzukic's first Serie A goal. And based on the chances he had, Dybala could have easily had two or three more goals if not for a Sportiello super save right before halftime and a second-half free kick whizzing just past the right upright.
But for an attack that clearly needed a spark, Dybala provided exactly that. And it paid dividends throughout the team as well. The build-up play on some of the scoring chances was some of the best we've seen all season. It certainly helped that it seemed as though Dybala was involved in everything. With the way he played, that wasn't a bad thing.
So, Dybala to start against Sassuolo midweek? I sure as hell hope so. He certainly earned it.
Random thoughts and observations
- We've talked a lot about Juventus' offensive woes as of late, and rightfully so. But what's flown under the radar a little bit is the fact that Juve's defense is playing as well as it has all season long. Leonardo Bonucci was fantastic again, Giorgi Chiellini has seemed to right the ship after his struggles the last 18 months or so. There was a reason why Gigi Buffon didn't have to do a damn thing outside of catching a couple of easy crosses. It's because of what the players in front of him are doing right now.
- What's that saying about 2-0 being the most dangerous lead to have in the game? Once Juventus went up 2-0 it seemed as though Atalanta lost total interest.
- Complete side note even though it's got a Juventus-related twist to it: Domenico Berardi scored against Milan today. That might as well write this into Italian law at this point. Whenever Berardi plays against Milan, Berardi scores against Milan. Book it.
- Marco Sportiello is a goalkeeper I would totally be okay with playing for Juventus down the road. He's become one of the best in Serie A with what he's done over the last season and change. Oh, and he's just 23 years old, so there's still plenty of room for him to grow.
- In the post-game thread after the Borussia Monchengladbach draw, I said Paul Pogba needed a game or two off. Well, I guess I was wrong. Sans penalty miss, this was easily one of Pogba's best games of the season. You could see the confidence growing as the game went on. There were a few tricks and flicks, but they were helping Juventus this time around, not hindering the team. That's huge.
- Claudio Marchisio is good. Sami Khedira is good. Juventus' midfield trio is starting to take shape. And that, as you probably can guess, is also good.
- Speaking of midfielders, seeing Kwadwo Asamoah get some serious playing time — even though it was as a result of Roberto Pereyra having to come off injured in the first half — is maybe one of the best things to come of out the Atalanta win. How does a midfield of Khedira-Marchisio-Asamoah with Pogba playing further up the field sound to you? I'll tell you this, I'm definitely not opposed to it, especially if Pogba starts to find some kind of consistent form.
- I missed games like this one. I really did. There was never a doubt that Juventus would really be in serious trouble. I'll take a couple more orders of that before the season is over, please.
- Juventus up to 12th win the win. (Never thought I'd be typing that in late-October, by the way.) Two crucial games back to back against Sassuolo and Torino within the next seven days.