Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus Beat Bologna; Extend Unbeaten Record to 25 GamesFebruary 24, 2019
Juventus beat Bologna 1-0 at the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara on Sunday to extend their unbeaten record in Serie A to 25 matches this season.
After they had struggled in the first half, Paulo Dybala came off the bench to hand the Bianconeri all three points, which saw them match their own milestone:
The goal came in the 67th minute, when Dybala—having been on the pitch for just eight minutes—set Blaise Matuidi free on the left before tucking home the Frenchman's return ball into the box.
As for Bologna, the defeat leaves them in the relegation zone and they remain on just one win in 2019.
Unleashing Dybala Will Bring the Thrills Back to Juve
After he scored 26 goals in all competitions last season, it seemed Dybala was ready to become Juve's main man in this campaign before Cristiano Ronaldo arrived last summer.
With the team's focus shifted to the Portugal superstar, the Argentinian has taken a back seat. His goal on Sunday was just his ninth in all competitions and only his fourth in Serie A.
As football writer Adam Digby noted, he has struggled to produce alongside Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic:
Because of Ronaldo's output the Bianconeri have remained a force to be reckoned with, but while they're effective in getting results, they've struggled to excite supporters.
Bleacher Report's Gianni Verschueren hasn't been enamoured by what he's seen from the Old Lady:
The Bianconeri have a squad filled with considerable talent, but perhaps none of their players get supporters off their seats like Dybala can when he's in full flow, thanks to his exceptional skill and intelligent use of the ball.
If Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri can find a way to get Dybala back to his best, he'll not only have an even stronger side but also one that's more exciting to watch.
Allegri's Rotation Experiments Put Unbeaten Record at Risk
Juve came into the match looking to bounce back from their 2-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League, but while they won, Allegri is unlikely to be happy with their performance.
The Italian opted to bench Dybala, Miralem Pjanic, Giorgio Chiellini and Wojciech Szczesny on Sunday.
While his desire to rotate was understandable with Napoli and the second leg of their clash with Atleti looming in the coming weeks, he chose to experiment in a way that hindered his team.
Digby was puzzled by Juve's setup:
Serie A writer Chloe Beresford also found their system strange and observed their struggle to find a rhythm because of it:
As a result, Bologna dominated much of the contest and can count themselves unfortunate not to have at least earned a point.
Federico Santander, Nicola Sansone and Simone Edera all went close in the first half as Juventus struggled to deal with Bologna:
In the second half, Ibrahima Mbaye saw an effort blocked by Alex Sandro while Sansone had a strike tipped onto the post by Mattia Perin in injury time.
Against more clinical teams, playing like that will cost them their unbeaten record. Rotation is key to juggling multiple competitions during the run-in, and when done well it can keep momentum going in spite of changes to the personnel or system.
But Allegri is struggling to find that balance, and until he does they're unlikely to remain unbeaten much longer.
Bologna travel to Udinese next Sunday afternoon, before Juventus take on Napoli later that evening.