Juventus are a different team than they were a season ago in a number of different ways. The goals the club have set out to achieve are different and have a greater final product. The expectations are as high as they’ve been in a long time. And even though a lot of the names are the same from this current half-decade-long title run domestically, some of the key players are different than they were a year ago.
But one thing remains the same: When in doubt, Paulo Dybala is still around to save the day when things don’t look so good.
Dybala, Juve’s 22-year-old Argentinian jewel, came out of the international break just like he went into it — discovering his goal-scoring form once again. Dybala scored two goals within an eight-minute span on the game clock to lead Juventus to a comeback win over Udinese at Juventus Stadium on Saturday night. And not only was it a brace that helped Juve extend their winning streak, but also one that helped the five-time defending Serie A champions extend their lead atop the league table following Napoli’s 3-1 loss to Roma earlier in the day.
And considering how Juventus started things out before Dybala’s wonderful free kick evened the scoreline just before the half, that was a pretty good response.
When the lineups came out, all of the talk was about how Max Allegri was shuffling things up. Some of that because of the Lyon match on Tuesday, some of it because of the injuries Allegri knew he had and some of it due to the fact that Giorgio Chiellini and Miralem Pjanic weren’t exactly deemed fit to play on Saturday night.
#Juve con 3-5-2, Lichtsteiner centrale e Alex Sandro mezzala— Fabiana Della Valle (@FabDellaValle) October 15, 2016
Okay, so maybe Max didn’t totally change things up when it came to his tactics. At times it looked 3-5-2, while other times it looked like the 4-4-2 we heard about in the minutes before kickoff. Alex Sandro as a left winger? Kinda sorta. Stephan Lichtsteiner supporting Juan Cuadrado on the right wing? Yeah, sometimes.
But what Juventus needed most of all was to simply play their game. Once they fell behind, they actually looked like some semblance of the team that went into the international break outscoring their opponents 12-0 in their last four games in all competitions.
It didn’t hurt that Dybala was up to his “old” tricks, too. (It’s weird to write old for Dybala because he looks like he’s 13 years old.) When Dybala does Dybala things, good things usually follow in quick order. That’s what happened for Juventus on a night when they needed somebody to kick-start them into action.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- In case you missed it: Giorgio Chiellini is hurt again after picking up a thigh injury during Saturday morning’s training session. This guy, his body is betraying him. Just when you think he’s healthy after an injury, another problem pops up. He’s 32 years old, but he’s got so much mileage on his body. And it’s not like the way he plays when he actually does get on the field helps, either.
- HAVE I EVER TOLD YOU THAT INJURIES ARE STUPID? I FEEL LIKE THIS NEEDS TO BE REPEATED OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
- Dybala running right toward Leonardo Bonucci after scoring his first goal got me right in the feels, man. I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking that, too.
- I’m not saying Gigi Buffon is not at fault for Udinese’s opener because he most certainly is, but what the heck is Hernanes doing in the first place? A turnover from a midfielder in that area of the field, that’s just a cardinal sin.
- Oh, and just for the record, I’m not worried about the mistakes Buffon has been making lately. I won’t overreact to a three-game sample size.
- If only Juventus could have been a little more clinical in front of goal — Mario Mandzukic and Alex Sandro, I’m looking at you guys — this game could have been put away with a half-hour to go and we could have pretty much just put our full focus toward Lyon on Tuesday night.
- Andrea Barzagli is 35 years old and still one of the best players on the field virtually every time he’s out there. He’s truly remarkable.
- If anybody ever gets under your skin, you can either take the high road and wake away. or just lower a shoulder into them like Patrice Evra did to somebody in the Udinese wall right before Dybala’s free kick hit the back of the night.
- It’s the 81st minute and Gonzalo Higuain is back defending and making slide tackles to break up a Udinese attack out on the right wing. The €90 million man does more than just score goals, folks.
- No Claudio Marchisio. No Moise Kean. Oh well. At least Juventus won.