For so many years that I’ve followed Juventus, it’s been easy to figure out that facing vastly superior opposition in the Champions League group stage has never truly been as routine as it always seems to be. Juve are the better side, obviously, but don’t necessarily play like it when going up against the team that everybody expects them to roll right on through.
With their star striker serving a one-game ban due to the red card he picked up two weeks ago, Juve bucked that trend of sub-par performances against Young Boys on Tuesday night.
And they can thank Paulo Dybala for it.
Dybala became the fourth Juventus player ever to score a hat trick in the Champions League, leading the Cristiano Ronaldo-less attack with the utmost of ease in his team’s 3-0 win to make it a perfect 9 for 9 to open the 2018-19 season. He had the game ball under his arm as he saluted the crowd following the final whistle, and I’d say what he did against Juve’s latest European opposition deserved it. You do you, Paulo.
Paulo Dybala is the first player to score a hat-trick for Juventus in the Champions League since Arturo Vidal against Copenhagen in 2013.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 2, 2018
So much of the talk around Dybala so far this season has been about what he hasn’t done rather than how much he might be able to achieve playing with the attacking options that Max Allegri currently has at his disposal.
But then you look at two of his three starts over the past week and Dybala has put forth a pair of Man of the Match performances and scored four goals along the way.
That is the Dybala, no matter who is starting in attack with him, that we have hoped to see. And that is the Dybala that we hope to continue to see because he’s such a damn good player when things are really clicking.
That may just be starting to happen, too.
(Have I mentioned that he scored his hat trick in 69 minutes? Because that’s nice.)
It took less than four minutes for Juventus to get on the board thanks to Dybala’s first goal, a brilliant volley off an equally-brilliant ball over the top from Leonardo Bonucci. And it wasn’t like Young Boys was really all that threatening outside of a couple of close calls early.
That’s exactly what Juventus needed — no messing around when it comes to getting the lead, no having a one-goal lead hang in the balance for much time at all, no risking all three points coming their way. Sure, you could argue that Juventus kicked things into auto pilot and cruise control after Dybala’s second goal and you wouldn’t be wrong. But they were in complete control of the game, so you can’t really blame them for kicking things down a peg or two from where they started out.
This was not the grind-it-out kind of game from Champions League past. It was a much, much easier way to get the three points compared to the trip to Spain two weeks ago. Most important of all, Juventus got the win, can sit back as Manchester United plays Valencia, and know that they’ve added another game to their perfect start to the season.
With an international break right around the corner and then a trip to Old Trafford to follow shortly after games resume, that sounds like a pretty good situation to be in.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- The BT Sport announcing crew didn’t even mention Ronaldo’s current legal situation and I feel like that wasn’t exactly what you would call ... responsible. It’s the elephant in the room and they made it seem like said elephant was just wearing an invisibility cloak or something.
- And with that, I’ll get off my soapbox.
- The official Juventus Twitter account said the starting lineup was a 3-5-2 with Federico Bernardeschi playing to the right of Miralem Pjanic. As it turned out, it was more of a 3-4-1-2 with Bernardeschi playing more centrally and in the hole behind Dybala and Mario Mandzukic. I have to say, Bernardeschi in the midfield went quite well, not that Fede’s form this season suggested that he would struggle playing a little deeper and not out on the wings like he has been. This was obviously something that was both out of necessity and a sign of Bernardeschi’s vast versatility. Basically, keep doing you, Fede. And say hi to the dogs for us all.
- Oh my god. Two of Juve’s best performances this season have come with a three-man defense. This is just going to throw the anti-3-5-2 establishment for a loop.
- When Bonucci’s long-distance passing is clicking like it was Tuesday night, whoa boy is it fun to watch.
- Also fun to watch: Paulo Dybala scoring goals.
- Also fun to watch: Dybala-Bernardeschi combination play that has quick, one-touch passing.
- Also fun to watch: Juventus’ third goal
- MOISE KEAN MOISE KEAN MOISE KEAN MOISE KEAN MOISE KEAN MOISE KEAN
- I’m still thinking about Dybala’s volley on his opener.
- Ah hell, I’m still thinking about the pass Bonucci played that led to Dybala’s volley on the opener, too. Just such a pretty, pretty goal.