For Paulo Dybala, the start to the 2018-19 season has essentially been the complete opposite of 12 months ago. September 2017 was filled with goals, goals and more goals, with Juve’s then-new No. 10 looking like he was made to carry the weight of such a jersey number that has so many expectations attached to it. Twelve months later, Dybala’s game and form is still trying to catch up to some of his fellow forwards.
On Wednesday night, in front of the fans that adore him, Dybala’s fortunes changed for the better.
Paulo Dybala scores his first goal of the season! pic.twitter.com/aK7JhvJLaI— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 26, 2018
OK, so the first touch by Dybala wasn’t all that pretty. But the second one ...
And with his right foot, too!
Dybala’s first goal of the season highlighted what was a first-half blitz by Juventus, quickly tossing aside a struggling Bologna side that had just scored its first goals of the season over the weekend in an upset of Roma. Thanks to Dybala and Blaise Matuidi, Juve built a two-goal advantage within the first 15 minutes, strolling to a 2-0 victory and their sixth straight Serie A win to open the season.
Essentially, for as much as Sunday’s win over Frosinone was about patience and trying to break down opposition that seemed like it had 50 people behind the ball, Bologna’s visit to Allianz Stadium was the exact opposite of that.
Not only did the 3-5-2 formation return for the first time this season, but Juventus showed — and quite pleasantly, I might add — an early-game sense of urgency we haven’t necessarily seen all that much lately. The Frosinone win was a slowly walk. This Bologna win was about Juve coming out of the blocks absolutely firing and not really showing any kind of danger in terms of having it be anything other than one-way traffic.
Dybala was at the forefront of it all.
It wasn’t the Dybala that we’ve seen a lot this season that was frustrated after a good portion of his involvement in the play that just ended. No, this was the Dybala that was creating, floating into pockets of space all over Bologna’s half of the field and making things happens. That’s when he’s truly at his best, really. He had the freedom to roam wherever he so pleased even though he was technically the seconda punta alongside Cristiano Ronaldo atop the 3-5-2.
The goal will be the icing on the cake, but it was the complete effort from Dybala that was the most important development in all of this.
We were witness to the Dybala show for the first time this season. And I’ll tell you what, I’m sure happy it showed itself once again after weeks of struggles and wonders about just where Dybala will fit into this current iteration of Juventus.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Stating the obvious: I really hope this is the goal that gets Dybala going.
- I can’t stop thinking about the tackle Rodrigo Bentancur made to begin the run of play that led to Matuidi’s goal. It was just perfectly executed in every single way possible.
- Bentancur’s game was kind of like prime Claudio Marchisio on Sunday where he was subtly making an impact. Against Bologna, he was more involved, more lively and quite simply one of Juventus’ best players on the field. This game will be about Dybala, and rightfully so with the way that he played, but this was the kind of Bentancur performance like we saw at the World Cup this past summer.
- Mama mia, Joao Cancelo is good.
- Cristiano Ronaldo is the third-best free kick taker Juventus has on its roster.
- Ronaldo didn’t score a goal. What a bust.
- Mattia Perin’s official Juventus debut involved two saves and less than 30 touches. Must be nice.
- I like when Juventus start to build a streak of clean sheets. It means that things are starting to get better. At least let’s hope that is the case with so many important games upcoming.
- It took the ESPN+ announcers 57 minutes to mention Paul Pogba and Juventus potentially reuniting. Surprised it didn’t take 5.7 seconds, let alone an entire half.
- If this is going to be the role that Andrea Barzagli plays, one where he captains the side against smaller teams and rotates in every now and then, I’m all for it. The more Barzagli isn’t starting as a right back and settles into a part-time starter’s spot, the better.
- That said, seeing Barzagli cleaning up a few messes created by Juan Cuadrado in front of him gave me flashbacks to peak Wall-zagli days.
- Two days of rest between Bologna and Napoli isn’t ideal, but I’m glad this game was over by halftime so that Max Allegri could pick and choose what he wanted to do and who he could give a bit of a rest to in the second half.
- Something tells me Saturday’s game at Allianz Stadium is going to be a liiiiiiittle more intense.