Juventus probably didn’t want to start Paulo Dybala against Atalanta on Sunday afternoon. In an ideal world, Dybala would have come off the bench, just as he did heroically against Napoli, for the final half-hour of this vital match. He would have been a reprieve for either the right-sided midfielder or Alvaro Morata, working with Cristiano Ronaldo on the pitch in an effort to show the world the two superstars can co-exist.
But ideal plans often change in football. Dybala had to start for the Bianconeri at the Gewiss Stadium, as Ronaldo suffered a rare injury. Ruled out of the match, Ronaldo’s place in the lineup was taken by Dybala.
La Joya struggled. The entire team around him did. Juve’s midfield was mowed over by Atalanta’s, as Marten de Roon and Co. bullied Adrien Rabiot and Rodrigo Bentancur, with the latter reduced to being a passenger in a match that required much more from him. And with Weston McKennie starting on the right-hand side, Juve didn’t exactly have ideal personnel out wide.
The service to Dybala simply wasn’t there. And Dybala himself was not 100 percent fit to start. So the result was another subpar performance from last season’s Serie A MVP, as he could do nothing to help Juventus find a breakthrough in a 1-0 loss to the Nerazzurri.
Paulo Dybala will likely perform better for Juventus if he starts alongside Cristiano Ronaldo
It is vital not to be overly critical of Dybala. Honesty is important, and it is important to admit that he did not make an impact on the match. But it is equally important to investigate why his impact was so minimal. In doing so, we find that Dybala was not really in a position to succeed, both due to his own fitness coming off a serious injury and the failings of the midfield.
Juventini must remain patient with Dybala. It seems there are some newer fans who do not show the respect to Dybala that he has earned over the years in Serie A – not just with Juventus, but also with Palmero. Further, it is baffling that these same fans seem to disregard what Dybala did for Juve last season. Without him, there is no ninth Scudetto.
Allow Dybala to find his health and form. His goal against Napoli was a clear sign of his quality, and we will surely see more of that quality in better conditions. We know that Juve are a better team when Cristiano Ronaldo plays, therefore, it is fair to add that Dybala would play better in the starting lineup with Ronaldo helping him out.
Dybala is a world-class player. He has scored double-digit goals in four seasons with Juventus. And he averaged two key passes per game and two dribbles completed per game last season, per WhoScored.com. Dybala can be a huge asset to Juve as they look to secure a top-four place in 2020-2021, and we must not be too critical of his performance at Atalanta.