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Juventus 1 - Lazio 0: Initial reaction and random observations

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When it looked like nothing was going to happen, Paulo Dybala reminded us all that he’s Paulo Dybala.

SS Lazio v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

As Max Allegri talked to the press during the early months of the season, the message always seemed to be the same. His club wasn’t playing all that well at all, but he was taking a patient approach and telling everybody that they wanted to be playing their best in March and April rather than October and November.

Well, March is here. And based on the first game of the month, I’d say that Juventus, even with Allegri’s words from earlier this season and years past, we’re left to sit here saying, “Hey, at least Juventus got the three points.”

Luckily, Paulo Dybala wears a Juventus jersey. And in stoppage time, not only did Dybala have on his customary No. 10 jersey, but he might as well had a Superman cape on as well.

What was seemingly destined for a scoreless draw at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome suddenly became a 1-0 Juventus advantage just before the final whistle sounded thanks to Dybala’s latest moment of brilliance in bianconero. He turned what looked like nothing into a whole lot of something, and found the back of the net in stoppage time to give Juventus a victory on Saturday night in what was an otherwise piss-poor match between the second- and third-place teams in Serie A.

I mean, when you get Gigi Buffon to sprint all the way across the field to celebrate with you then it’s safe to say you just did something pretty damn good .. and important.

I mean, just look at the angle Dybala is at when he makes contact. The amount of strength it must have taken to not only fend off Marco Parolo but also even make contact with the ball before going to the ground is just amazing.

It was mostly a match to forget for Dybala — and Juventus as a whole because my god they were so bad and completely incapable of doing much of anything in the final third of the field — but that one moment of brilliance is all his team needed to get three points.

Three incredibly valuable points.

No, Juventus didn’t play well at all. I get that. I’d be the first person to tell you that this was an utterly crap performance and few Juve players outside of Medhi Benatia and Daniele Rugani actually had good games. And I’m not happy about it, either — especially with such a huge Champions League game away from home laying there on the horizon.

It sure would have been nice to see Juventus go into Wednesday night’s game against Spurs with plenty of wind in their sails that have us feeling good about things. Instead, we got what we saw on Saturday night — an absolute dud where one sheer moment of brilliance from Dybala saved Juve’s backside.

We can throw out superlatives and clichés about Juventus right now like “This is what champions are made of” or “Juve showed the heart of champions” or whatever. But this was destined to be a day where Juve could have fallen further behind Napoli if there were more points dropped. Instead, even if Napoli beat Roma later in the day, the worst Juve can be is four points back with a game in hand.

Based on how that game went, I think we’re all going to be thanking the heavens that Dybala wears a Juventus jersey.

RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS

  • Before he scored his goal, this was pretty much going to be the lone mention of Dybala in this post-game thread: Dybala resembles a player who hasn’t played much at all the last two months and rarely started since the month of November. He had his moments prior to the goal, but you could clearly tell that the rust and match fitness are still lacking. Thank goodness he was there to help in the 93rd minute.
  • In other expert analysis, I have no idea why Sami Khedira is still starting pretty much every game Juve plays. I have no idea what he’s bringing to the table right now and I really wish Claudio Marchisio had the capability of playing two games within a week. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Khedira playing less or Marchisio playing more is going to happen any time soon.
  • Hindsight is 20/20, but these are the times where not loaning out Marko Pjaca, even though it was completely understandable as to why he’s at Schalke right now, sure would have been nice.
  • These are the kinds of performances as to why Rugani needs to play more. He was superb, and seeing him chase down Ciro Immobile, shield him from the ball and then clear it out of danger like it was no big deal at all made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. This boy, Daniele Rugani, he’s good.
  • Oh, and just for kicks, Rugani got credit for the assist on Dybala’s game-winning goal and completed nearly 95 percent of his passes.
  • Oh, and just for more kicks, Rugani also touched the ball 97 times. and was tied with Benatia with a team-high five clearances.
  • Basically what I am trying to say is that I <3 Rugani.
  • If you wanted to see what Immobile was up to for most of the night before he was taken off in the second half, you might have to check the pockets of Rugani, Benatia and/or Andrea Barzagli.
  • How bad has Juve’s injury crisis up front gotten? When Allegri switched to a 4-3-3 in the middle of the first half, Stephan Lichtsteiner was playing as a right winger. Yeah, seriously.
  • Now that we’ve sufficiently talked about this game, I have one more thing to say: Forza Roma. For the next two hours or so after the publication time of this post, anyway.