With how the roster was constructed coming into the 2016-17 season, the vision was simple: Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala would team together to form a powerhouse partnership to lead the way offensively while Miralem Pjanic would be supplying plenty of support from the midfield. It made perfect sense even with all of the money it took over the last two summers to make it a reality.
In Juventus’ first game of 2017, we saw what all three players are capable of doing.
And it was glorious.
It was an all-Argentinian scoreline at Juventus Stadium on Sunday night, as goals from Higuain bookended Dybala’s 40th-minute penalty kick in a 3-0 win over Bologna to establish a new Serie A record for consecutive wins at their home stadium that was set three years ago when Antonio Conte was roaming the Juve sidelines. Even on a frigid early-January night in Turin where the temperatures at Juventus Stadium dipped below zero degrees celsius, Juve and their No. 9 continued their extremely efficient play on their home turf.
Gonzalo Higuain has scored a brace 4 times in Serie A this season:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 8, 2017
⚽️⚽️ vs. Sassuolo
⚽️⚽️ vs. Empoli
⚽️⚽️ vs. Torino
⚽️⚽️ vs. Bologna pic.twitter.com/TpnOuXnJ9G
Just gonna go out out on a limb and say that’s pretty good.
Juventus, already winter champions thanks to how they went into the holiday break, not only extended their lead atop the Serie A table back to four points with a game in hand after Roma’s win over Genoa earlier in the day, but also got their No. 1 strike partnership on the field together for the first time in a long time.
For this team to be successful on the bigger stage — like, you know, the European stage in the Champions League next month and going forward — it’s going to have to be Dybala and Higuain who lead the way. As wonderful as it would be to happen all the time, they’re not going to score three goals every single time they’re paired together. (And, based on that wonderful chance that Dybala had toward the end of Sunday’s win, it could have been a double-brace situation if his shot didn’t go miles over the crossbar.)
We got a glimpse of it, though. Higuain is clearly starting to really hit some serious goal-scoring form. Dybala, who got his first goal since his brace against Udinese in mid-October, is bound to find form sooner rather than later. I can say that because we’ve seen him score goals in bunches just when it looks like he might be completely out of it. That’s just the kind of player he is.
That’s the beauty of this Juventus attack. There’s multiple ways to beat you. And, as Bologna found out on Sunday, when they’re both on the scoresheet, good things are usually happening for Juventus. Good things usually result in three points, too.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Let’s just get it out of the way right now: How many hearts stopped when Dybala went down injured all of about a minute or two into the second half?
- Let’s also get this out of the way right now: How beautiful was Pjanic’s assist to Higuain on the game-opening goal? Because I think it was quite beautiful.
- Also: STEPHAN LICHTSTEINER SENT IN A GOOD CROSS ON HIGUAIN’S GOAL. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. THIS IS NOT A DRILL, PEOPLE.
- Neto’s night in goal as he subbed for Gianluigi Buffon: Dive to his left for a save. Dive to his left for a save. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Probably because it was.
- The announcers on the stream I was watching spent a minute or two saying that Mattia Destro had a lot of the same qualities of Higuain. No, seriously, they did. And just for the record, Higuain had twice as many GOALS as Destro had SHOTS on Sunday night, so there may be a little difference in quaity there, folks.
- Gotta say, the Kwadwo-Asamoah-as-a-left-back experiment went pretty well. Sure, a lot of Bologna’s offense in the first half when it was just a 1-0 Juventus lead came down their left flank with Federico Di Francesco, but can you name an issue that happened on the opposite wing? Not really, no. Alex Sandro is expected back at training next week, according to Max Allegri himself, but Asamoah showed he can fill in admirably at left back for one night, at least.
- I’m going to take no playing time for Marko Pjaca on Sunday as a sign that he will be playing in the Coppa Italia match against Atalanta on Wednesday. Or maybe that’s just me and my wishful thinking showing again, but whatever.
- Claudio Marchisio recorded nearly half of Juventus’ 14 interceptions against Bologna, according to WhoScored. Even when you think he’s having a quiet game, he’s doing something to help the team win. Love that guy.
- Four points up with a game in hand (against Crotone, no less). I can live with that.