Saturday, March 25, 2017

Juventus v Bologna: Dybala eyes Scudetto spark

SoccerNews in General Soccer News, Serie A 2 Oct 2015

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Paulo Dybala has seen enough from Juventus’ Champions League exploits to suggest a fifth consecutive Serie A title is not out of their reach, despite a woeful start to the season, with a fine chance to kickstart the Scudetto hunt arriving with Bologna in Turin on Sunday.

A solitary win from Juve’s first six games has done little to suggest that Italy’s dominant team of the past four seasons will be able to recapture their former glories, but Massimiliano Allegri’s new-look squad has impressed on the continent.

Victories over Manchester City and Sevilla have left Juve top of a hotly contested Champions League group and a run of one defeat in 25 league fixtures against Sunday’s opponents will be further cause for optimism.

Former Palermo forward Dybala has not seen much difference in the side’s performances in domestic and continental action, so expects a title challenge to remain at the forefront of their ambitions.

He told Premium Sport: “I do not think that there is a difference in performance [from Serie A and the Champions League].

“In Europe, teams play more open and allow more space. In Serie A, all teams are closed. Against Frosinone [a 1-1 home draw] we gave away the ball and they scored.

“It [the Scudetto] is still a possible target because we are Juventus and we always fight to win. We did not start well but we will fight until the end.”

Dybala has only started in four of his eight Juve appearances since joining from Palermo in pre-season, but is the champions’ top scorer with three goals in all competitions.

He added: “I played a good game against Sevilla, but I also played well in the Super Cup against Lazio when I came on.

“I fought together with the team until the end and settled on the pitch very well.”

Summer signing Sami Khedira made his debut against Sevilla in midweek, boosting a Juve midfield that is still searching for its best form since being shorn of Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo, as well as injury victim Claudio Marchisio, although the latter is reportedly in line for a return this weekend.

Stephan Lichtsteiner is sidelined by a respiratory illness, although Chelsea loanee Juan Cuadrado has impressed in his place on the right flank. Martin Caceres has been suspended by the club after being caught drink-driving this week and Mario Mandzukic remains out with a thigh injury.

Former Juve winger Emanuele Giaccherini will not return to Juventus Stadium this weekend, as Bologna’s on-loan Sunderland man has a thigh problem.

It is another headache for Delio Rossi, with Bologna having lost five of their six games this term. High-profile summer signing Mattia Destro is yet to find the net since arriving, but Rossi insisted this week that the Italy international “is not the problem”.

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