Paulo Dybala scored twice in three minutes to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat for Juventus on Tuesday night.
There Champions League clash with Lokomotiv Moscow at home suffered a setback when Aleksey Miranchuk took advantage of some slack defending to break the deadlock half an hour into proceedings.
Juve were being frustrated by a stubborn away side but a moment of magic from Dybala drew them level in the 77th minute. Afforded a little space outside the area, the Argentine didn’t hesitate as he curled a delightful effort past the hapless Guilherme in goal.
A stinging Alex Sandro shot from range a couple of minutes later was pushed away by the keeper but only into the path of Dybala who made no mistake.
HOW DO YOU BENCH A PLAYER LIKE DYBALA
It’s no secret that Maurizio Sarri was willing to let Dybala leave Juventus during the summer transfer window but on a few occasions this season, he must’ve been glad that possibility didn’t pan out.
The Argentine is among the most talented footballers in world football but given the illustrious personnel at Juventus’ disposal and Sarri’s affinity to the 4-3-3 system, he has not been an automatic start this term.
Instead, he’s had to prove his worth, earn his right to don the black and white stripes and so he did again against Lokomotiv.
Faced with a stubborn defence, even Cristiano Ronaldo with his eight efforts at goal looked incapable of breaching it along with the rest of the Juve attack.
The situation called for a moment of magic and so Dybala wielded his wand of a left foot. After bringing the ball under his spell, he cast it into the far corner and left the keeper feeling tricked. He showed alertness and poise to then bag the winner soon after.
Great players change games – even win them – in the blink of an eye. And they have no business being on the bench.
After stubbornly persisting with his favoured 4-3-3 formation during his season with Chelsea, Sarri has experimented with a 4-3-1-2 at Juventus, deploying it against Lokomotiv as well.
It didn’t work and his reluctance to change it at some point was concerning. Against a team that played a back five, a low midfield block and remained as compact as possible, adding to the congestion in the middle was not effective.
Juve needed width and Federico Bernadeschi could’ve been the answer by stretching the defence and creating a little more space to operate in.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo and Dybala neither provided a focal point up front nor drifted wide to stretch the back line. Gonzalo Higuain should’ve come on sooner.
Ultimately, this too will be swept under the rug thanks to Dybala’s heroics.
77.8% - Juventus have collected their best average possession (77,8%) in a #UCL match since Opta collected this kind of data (2003/04).— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) October 22, 2019
28 - Only vs Nordsjælland (2012, 33 shots), Juventus have fired more shots in a UCL match than tonight (28).
Mentality. #JuveLokomotiv pic.twitter.com/psmFMsD9Su
They didn’t get the result they wanted but the Russian side must be commended for their efforts.
They employed the kind of tactics that afforded them the best chance to take something away from the game and are growing increasingly proficient in their game plan.
Against Bayer Leverkusen, they only had 22 per cent possession but managed to sneak a win. Lokomotiv have learned how to frustrate their opponents and are frighteningly clinical when presented with their own opportunities.
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