#JuveCagliari: Five Talking Points
Three points, three goals and a clean sheet: Juventus started the 2017/18 season in some style at Allianz Stadium, as they set off on their quest for a seventh straight Scudetto title.
This was, in many ways, the perfect reaction to last Sunday’s dramatic defeat to Lazio in the Italian Super Cup, as a largely composed and convincing performance sealed a much-deserved victory in Serie A’s curtain-raiser.
This was an evening that really did tick all the boxes: the usual suspects of Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain all opened their accounts for the campaign; captain fantastic Gianluigi Buffon saved a first-half penalty en route to keeping a clean sheet and there were also maiden league appearances from the bench for summer signings Douglas Costa and Blaise Matuidi.
May the bright start continue next Saturday against Genoa.
2. DYBALA DELIGHT
After striking twice last weekend in the Super Cup, Paulo Dybala put in another eye-catching display on Saturday, in which he swept home Miralem Pjanic’s perfect through ball, as well as hitting the crossbar and constantly looking a threat throughout the encounter.
La Joya really does look the part in the number 10 jersey he inherited earlier this month. Never one to shy away from a challenge, the Argentine forward is evidently embracing the added responsibility of wearing a shirt worn previously by the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, Michel Platini and Roberto Baggio.
These are exciting times for Dybala and all Bianconeri fans, eager to see how far his star can continue to rise this season.
3. SUPERMAN SAVES THE DAY
The first ever goalkeeper to save a penalty awarded by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system in Serie A. It just had to be Gianluigi Buffon!
The legendary goalkeeper, now in his 17th season with Juventus, produced his latest act of heroism at a crucial point in Saturday’s match. For, had Diego Farias converted from the spot, Cagliari would have levelled the scores at 1-1.
San Gigi had other ideas, however, reading Farias’ shot to perfection as he not only preserved Juve’s lead, but lifted the mood of his team-mates and an entire stadium.
Had it not been for Buffon, this might have been a far trickier evening than it ultimately was.
4. PIPITA & MANDZU OFF THE MARK
It’s always pleasing when your strikers get on the scoresheet. Joining Dybala in finding the net on Saturday were no other than Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain – two players who will be hoping to fill their boots with regularity this season.
And both men showed just the kind of killer instinct that bodes well for the 2017/18 season: Mario, who occupied his familiar role down the left side of attack, hooked home brilliantly on the volley from Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross, while Pipita powered into the area before arrowing confidently into the bottom corner.
Watch this space from the forward pair this season.
5 MAGIC MIRALEM
81 completed passes, a 95% pass completion rate and one world-class assist: Miralem Pjanic’s numbers from Saturday make excellent reading for anyone of a Bianconeri persuasion.
The Bosnian came mightily close to opening the scoring as early as the second minute when he bent a free-kick just a matter of inches off target, but it would not be long before his creative talents paved the way for perhaps the most eye-catching goal of the evening.
For in the 46th minute, with most people thinking about half-time, Miralem’s mind was focused on threading the perfect pass through Cagliari’s defence and into the path of Paulo Dybala, who duly doubled Juve’s lead with the final kick before the break.
If ever people needed reminding of Pjanic’s ability to produce the spectacular, this was certainly it.
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