As I rolled out of bed on a gloomy mid-April morning here in California, it was pretty easy to figure out my first thought was a Juventus-related thought. What was it, you ask? Well here it is: “You know, this Barcelona team is capable of getting got.”
Juventus proved that to be true.
Behind an absolutely brilliant first-half brace off the left foot of Paulo Dybala, Juventus certainly get Barcelona on Tuesday night in Turin. The Spanish giants and their star-studded attack couldn’t muster anything past Juve’s defense, with a couple of massive Gigi Buffon saves locking up the clean sheet in a 3-0 win at Juventus Stadium in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal matchup.
The #ItsTime social media campaign that ran over the last three day was right on point. It was time for Juventus to rise to the occasion against one of the best teams this here planet has to offer. And you know what? Juventus proved they belong to be in that conversation, too, because they played an absolutely fantastic game of football.
And so much of it had to do with the efforts of Dybala.
We talk about how he has the world-class potential and can lead Juventus to amazing heights. Well, he did just that on Tuesday night. It was all set up as the battle between Dybala and the man people are comparing him to, Leo Messi. There was one Argentinian striker shining bright on Tuesday night — and it wasn’t Messi.
Dybala lived up to his nickname. Dybala led the way with two glorious shots off that wonderful left foot of his. It was a Dybala game for all Dybala games, the kind of two-strike flash of lighting that we have seen so many times before since he became a Juventus player in the summer of 2015.
And that Buffon save right before Juve went up 2-0 ... woo boy that was beautiful.
A lot of things were beautiful against Barcelona. That’s what happens when you talk the big talk about doing big things in the Champions League and then deliver the goods to back things up. Yes, the job isn’t done. There’s still 90 minutes to play in this quarterfinal and it’s at one of the most intimidating stadiums in the world. But Juventus couldn’t have gone into the second leg in any better shape than they are right now. (And, no, a 10-0 lead after the first leg was never going to happen. Nope, not even against Barcelona’s defense.)
What a night.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- I like Paulo Dybala.
- I really like Paulo Dybala.
- Holy crap Paulo Dybala is amazing. I love him.
- PAULO DYBALA PLEASE NEVER LEAVE WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH.
- Marking Giorgio Chiellini with Javier Mascherano on corner kicks. I laughed.
- You know who is also quite good? Alex Sandro is quite good. It’s hard to believe with the way he played against Barcelona that there was any kind of doubt that he was going to start. Like I said in the match preview, Allegri opened that can of worms and made the left back discussion a thing. But there’s no doubting who Juve’s No. 1 left back is. And there’s no doubting who should play there in every single European game Juventus plays in for the next decade.
- Gonzalo Higuain entered Tuesday night’s game with four goals in his last two appearances. With the scoring chances he had you would have thought that another brace was going to come his way. It wasn’t the best of Higuain games, but seeing him get the scoring chances that he had makes you think he’s going to score those more often than not. But there will be those who will bring out the “Higuain isn’t good in big games” kind of narrative that we’ve seen before. Meh, whatever.
- Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci were damn good. So damn good.
- Then again, what Juventus player that was in the starting lienup didn’t play well against Barcelona? Let’s be real here. It was a great game.
- Messi got in a shoving match with Mario Mandzukic for a hot second. Memo to Leo: That’s probably the last guy on the Juventus roster that you want to get into one of those scuffles with. My money’s on Mr. No Good every single time.
- Dani Alves is undefeated against his former teams in the Champions League this season. Does he have any former teams that he can play left in the competition? This formula seems to be working out pretty well so far.
- And I know i’ve been quite tough on Alves this season, but he was great against his former team. All the hugs with his former teammates in the tunnel before the game was replaced by Alves playing damn well. More of that, please.
- Juventus had 31.9 percent possession. They won 3-0. This game keeps getting better and better as time goes on.
- It’s okay, Luis Enrique probably remembers these kinds of Juventus games from his days at Roma. I’m just sayin’, people.
- Max Allegri >>>>>>> Luis Enrique
- Seriously, Max owned this game. He played it perfectly — both in the build-up where he set things up for this game and tactically when playing Barcelona. The guy is proving once again to be one of the best there is in the business. Give him a raise.
- Two world-class saves. A clean sheet against the best attack in the world. Bravo to you, Mr. Buffon. And for the record, Messi still hasn’t scored a goal against you, too.
- I liked that game. I liked that game a lot.