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Dybala lifts Juve ahead of Barcelona trip

Dybala lifts Juve ahead of Barcelona trip

TURIN: Paulo Dybala inspired Juventus to a 3-0 win over Chievo Verona on Saturday to maintain their perfect start to the new Serie A campaign ahead of next week’s Champions League opener at Barcelona.

Three days ahead of their trip to the Camp Nou, Massimiliano Allegri tested his troops after the international break which had deprived the champions of key players.

But it was the performance of Dybala which drew ringing praise from Allegri after the Argentina striker came on after 50 minutes to seal a comfortable victory with a superb individual goal. The 23-year-old also set up Juve’s second goal for Gonzalo Higuain.

“Dybala keeps progressing enormously, both physically and technically, and he has all it takes to became the best in the world alongside Neymar when Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo stop playing,” Allegri told reporters.

The Turin side have taken nine points from their opening three games as they chase a seventh successive title, although Allegri warned there was a long road ahead.

“There are so many teams battling for the Scudetto that it will be really difficult and finely balanced,” he said.

Allegri pointed out that some of his international players returned only on Thursday from their World Cup qualifying matches, giving him little time to get his team ready.

“We only had one day to prepare for the match and it was all a bit improvised, but the lads did really well in administering the match,” he said.

Juventus took the lead in the 17th minute when Perparim Hetemaj inadvertently headed Miralem Pjanic’s free kick past his own goalkeeper.

New Juventus signings Wojciech Szczesny, Blaise Matuidi and Douglas Costa were given their first starts as Allegri rotated his team but it was the introduction of Dybala as a second-half substitute that transformed Juve.

The Argentine quickly inspired the hosts as he combined with Pjanic to set up Higuain in the 58th minute.

Dybala then provided the highlight of the match as he collected the ball near the edge of the penalty area, skipped past two defenders and slipped the ball through a forest of Chievo legs into the net.

“he team was winning, there was space to play, and when the coach brought me on we had changed the strategy,” said Dybala, who has scored in the first three games. “I got up to help Higuain but the team played well and deserved the win.

“I was a bit tired from the trip [to Argentina on international duty] but I’m happy with the goal. This month is very important, we have a lot of respect for Barcelona and we will go there to perform.”

The other game due to be played on Saturday, between Sampdoria and AS Roma, was postponed on Friday due to warnings of torrential rain in Genoa.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2017

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