And then, with his next trick, Paulo Dybala only went out and scored two goals and got an assist within the first 25 minutes of a match. Just for good measure before the first half was over, he threw in another assist to play a hand in each one of Juventus' four first-half goals.
You thought you were having a good Sunday. Nah, Dybala did better. Sorry 'bout that, but it's true.
The "HOLY CRAP!!" kind of season Dybala is having continued against Udinese, as Juventus not just crashed the party at the new Friuli, but they stormed right through the gates and put the game to rest before the first half came to a close. It was truly the best performance in a dominant opening 45 minutes if there ever was one. Dybala led the charge, scoring another brilliant free kick before connecting on a penalty kick and dishing out assists on goals by Sami Khedira and Alex Sandro. That's what you call a stat sheet-stuffing kind of game.
And he did it all in the first half, people.
Any suspicions that Udinese would come out like gangbusters on the day they unveiled their new digs were squashed in just a couple of minutes after the opening kickoff. Instead, Juventus dropped a four spot on their opponent just like they did when they opened Juventus Stadium back in September of 2011 against Parma.
So, while we're at it, let's just go ahead and update Dybala's Serie A stats real quick, okay?
19 appearances (15 starts), 11 goals, 7 assists, millions of hearts left swooning after each game
Yes, we can make this all about Dybala — and rightfully so because he was absolutely dynamite. But let's not forget this: Juventus' first-half dismantling of Udinese was more than just Dybala playing out of his mind once again. Outside of a few shaky moments at the back, it was as good as Juve have played to open a game. Almost everywhere you looked there was somebody in a pink Juventus jersey doing something that proved to be important.
Who needs Paul Pogba, right? (I'm kidding. I love Paul Pogba.)
Juventus got the victory they needed to extend their winning streak, and they got the win to keep pace with the one team that is still in front of them in the Serie A standings. It's now plus-2 over third-place Inter and minus-2 behind league leaders Napoli. Giddy-up, folks. This is getting pretty good.
.@PauDybala_JR: "It's a great day. We're two points off the top and need to make up the ground quickly" #UdineseJuve pic.twitter.com/FbaMhJYX6N— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) January 17, 2016
Random thoughts and observations
- Juventus' last 10 league games: W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W.
That's pretty good, IMHO.
- The new Friuli looks fantastic. If only more clubs in Italy had the solid management structure and financial backing to get projects like that one done. Lord knows the country's stadiums need it badly.
- According to La Stampa's Massimiliano Nerozzi, Pogba had played nearly 2,300 minutes this season entering the trip to Udine. Even if he wasn't dealing with the flu, it wouldn't have been the worst idea in the world to give him an afternoon off knowing what is on the horizon. That, of course, was even before the game was over 25 minutes in.
- The score was 3-0 as the 30th minute arrived. Max Allegri was screaming instructions at some of his players at the top of his lungs. I mean, the dude is a perfectionist and apparently wanted more, more and more.
- Good move by Allegri to get Giorgio Chiellini off the field before he picked up a yellow and got suspended for Roma next weekend. Plus it enabled Martin Cáceres to get some playing time, so Max got to kill two birds with one stone on that one.
- Lost in the Dybala madness: Alex Sandro's first Juventus goal was a thing of beauty. Oh, and it was hit with his weaker right foot. You want another sign as to why Juve spent all that cash on him this summer, well, his weak foot ain't so weak after all.
- You know Álvaro Morata is in a slump and low on confidence when he opts to pass the ball during a clear-cut scoring chance.
- I ask this because it deserves to be mentioned: How consistent has Khedira been this season? He's got a couple goals to his name now — the first time he has scored in back-to-back games since 2013 — and his presence in the midfield is so very evident as the weeks go by.
- Who had the best pass accuracy of Juventus' 11 starters? Somebody by the name of Kwadwo Asamoah. Not bad for somebody who has barely played this season due to injury reasons.
- This was the 250th Serie A win in a Juventus jersey for Gigi Buffon. He got a clean sheet and made a couple of sweet, sweet saves along the way. I wouldn't have wanted to have him do so in any other kind of fashion. Buffon is just gonna be Buffon no matter what.
- Moment that had nothing to do with the final score: The cameras caught Buffon giving a huge round of applause to Toto Di Natale when the veteran striker was subbed off in the second half. Those are a couple of longtime friends right there, and with many people thinking Di Natale will retire at the end of the season, this may very well be the last time we've seen him play against Juventus.
- Roma comes to Juventus Stadium in a little different shape than the first time the two teams played. Juve are coming off a dominant win, Roma are coming off a very Roma-y kind of 1-1 draw to last-place Hellas Verona. Next Sunday should be a fun one in Turin.