Paulo Dybala’s last gasp goal on the weekend to lift Juventus over Lazio sent a message to the rest of Europe that he is ready to lead ‘the Old Lady’ to another title.
By now, we all know of Juventus forward Paulo Dybala; his scintillating qualities, his ability to impact the outcome of any match, and the burden he bears as ‘the Old Lady’s’ number 10.
There is a heaping amount of pressure that comes with the territory of wearing this famous number once worn by icons like Alessandro Del Piero, Roberto Baggio and Michel Platini. This isn’t just any number, it’s a badge of honour that demands the utmost class, quality and responsibility. To be an iconic 10 at Juventus, one must put the extra in extraordinary, go above and beyond and elevate the team when they need it most. Sure enough, ‘La Joya’ did all that, and more, last weekend in the Capital. Saturday night, with Juventus and Lazio deadlocked at 0-0, the 24-year old supplied yet another moment of brilliance out of nowhere at the Stadio Olimpico.
Corralling Daniele Rugani’s pass on the edge of the penalty area and splitting the Lazio defence with a quick weave inward before fending off Marco Parolo for the decisive goal, Dybala’s 93rd minute maneuver reminded us all once again of his ability to single-handedly decide matches with but the faintest of opportunities.
DRAMA! Paulo Dybala’s 93rd minute goal wins it for @juventusfc.
Timely from ‘La Joya.’ 💎 pic.twitter.com/fzRgXx0wDI
— ItalianFootballDaily 💜 (@ItalianFD) March 3, 2018
In that moment, ‘La Vecchia Signora‘ were lifted by their superlative star when it seemed as though they would have to settle with just a point and leave the door open for league leading Napoli to expand their advantage in the table if they were able to handle Roma at the San Paolo. Yet, in a matter of hours, the complexion of the Scudetto race had changed. Roma convincingly beat Maurizio Sarri’s Azzurri and by virtue of Dybala’s timely goal at the death, momentum had swung away from Naples and back to Turin.
Currently, the Partenopei hold a narrow lead, but their arch nemesis is breathing down their neck, trailing by just a single point with a match in their back pocket. This is what has made Dybala’s stunning winner such a vital goal in the title race and perhaps the Argentine’s biggest goal in bianconero yet – provided the reigning Italian champions are able to overthrow Napoli and win the championship when it’s all said and done.
Dybala came out of the gates for the 2017-18 Serie A campaign guns blazing, scoring at will and burying goals in bunches to further cement himself as one of European football’s crown jewels. However, after scoring 10 goals in the first five league affairs, he cooled off a bit, yet was supported by others in the squad like Gonzalo Higuain to pick up the workload. Still, Dybala’s 15 strikes in 21 matches are among the best in Italy and his strike last weekend is a clear indication that with Higuain and Federico Bernardeschi working their way back to fitness or sidelined indefinitely, he is capable of doing the heavy lifting required of a champion down the most important stretch of the season.
Earlier in the campaign, manager Massimiliano Allegri’s reiterated that “August to January is one season, February to May is another.”If Paulo Dybala can mirror his early season exploits that took the European scoring charts by storm, help the Bianconeri advance past a talented Tottenham in the Round of 16 to keep the UEFA Champions League dream alive, and finish as Italian champions for the seventh straight year, it would truly be the effort of a number 10.
Here in the early days of March, when legs are tired, players are banged up, the schedule is grueling, and every point counts, performances become magnified. All eyes turn to Paulo Dybala for his Lady’s quest for silverware.