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Juventus 2 - Udinese 0: Initial reaction and random observations

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Paulo Dybala did Paulo Dybala things, and that is really good news.

Juventus v Udinese Calcio - Serie A Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

It’s not long ago where we sat around on our laptops and wondered where, exactly, Paulo Dybala may fit into this Juventus side following a December spent mostly on the bench and then a January and February filled with injury woes. Come the first 11 days of March, though, we’re suddenly seeing Dybala getting back to being a goal scoring machine once again.

And it’s so fun to watch, too.

Following his late-game winners against Lazio and Tottenham, Dybala put his name on the scoresheet once again in Juve’s 2-0 win over Udinese on a rainy Sunday afternoon at Allianz Stadium in Turin. While those two goals might have come late on, these two came midway through each half, with Dybala’s absolutely picturesque free kick in the 19th minute proving to be the eventual game-winning effort.

With that, we can declare this: Dybala is back.

It’s funny, really. For as good as Dybala was in the first two months of the season, it was the complete opposite in November and December. Dybala went a two-month span between Halloween and Dec. 30, all of 11 appearances in total, with just four goals.

That’s as many as Dybala has in his last three appearances.

To say that Dybala getting hot again during such a crucial point in the season both domestically and in Europe is huge for Juventus is pretty much an understatement if there ever was one. He carried Juve’s offense in September and October before things went sideways and he suddenly found himself on the bench more often than not. And now, well, it’s looking like we’re getting September Dybala rather than November Dybala.

I think I know which one I like.

Not sure that Serie A defenders would agree with that, though.

RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS

  • Let’s go ahead and rattle off what Juve has done well lately?
  • They’re a perfect 8-for-8 against Serie A opposition since the calendar turned over to 2018.
  • In those eight league games in the 2018 calendar year, Juve haven’t allowed a goal. /insert picture of clean sheets here/
  • And in case you’re wondering, Juve has allowed all of four goals at home against Serie A opposition this season. That’s good, right?
  • Paulo Dybala has 21 goals in all competitions this season.
  • Gonzalo Higuain has 21 goals in all competitions this season.
  • That said, maybe it’s time that Higuain takes a break from attempting penalty kicks.
  • (Outside of the unsuccessful PK attempt, Higuain was pretty good, though.)
  • I’ve said it before that Mattia De Sciglio has just quietly gone about his business this season, and this was once again one of those games. He’s never going to be bombing up and down the right flank like Stephan Lichtsteiner has done for so many years, but he doesn’t really need to with Douglas Costa playing on the same side of the field. De Sciglio just brings a consistent and solid presence to a right back position that has definitely needed it.
  • Wojciech Szczesny’s biggest moment of the day came about three minutes in when he made a really nice reaction save from a very interesting kind of angle. Then it was pretty much stand back and watch the team in front of him work. That’s a pretty good day at the office for a goalkeeper, I’d say.
  • That Szczesny save came off free kick after Giorgio Chiellini picking up a yellow card about one minute into the game. After that, Chiellini was pretty damn good. And I was quite happy that he didn’t have to go into complete hero mode like was needed against Spurs the other night.
  • Also good, Daniele Rugani. But you probably knew that by now.
  • I can watch Douglas Costa run at an opposing defense when he’s got some open space in front of him all day long. His acceleration is absolutely off the charts. If you didn’t know any better you would have thought somebody went into his attributes in FIFA and cranked up anything related to his speed ratings to 99 and hit save. It’s just ... vrooooooooom.
  • Can we get a Rodrigo Bentancur start before the international break arrives? As the ghost of Sami Khedira continues to be trotted out there nearly every game it sure would be nice to see Bentancur get more than two minutes of playing time like he did against Udinese.
  • Back to first place for the next couple of hours. Forza Not Napoli.