Dybala hat trick erases Barca disappointment as Juve beat Sassuolo
Juventus bounced back from their midweek defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League to defeat Sassuolo 3-1 on Sunday, with Paulo Dybala grabbing his second hat trick of the season.
Professional and effective, Juventus controlled the game and played with a certain level of fluency to guarantee a positive result. While their defence still looks to be a cause for concern, the attack did enough to secure another Serie A win to stay at the top of the table.
It's incredible what Dybala is capable of when he plays with confidence, unburdened by the pressure to live up to expectation. Converting two beautiful opportunities in style before striking the perfect free kick, Dybala alone is worth the ticket price and a bag of chips.
With gaping holes at the back and players out of position, Juventus still have so much work to do defensively. Chaos led to Sassuolo's goal while Stephan Lichtsteiner's performance left a lot to be desired. A more effective opponent may well have caused Juve more pain.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Massimiliano Allegri's men played with precision, fluidity and control -- a fine reaction to the embarrassing defeat midweek. Juventus controlled the game and converted their opportunities but work must still be done to fortify the defence.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Gianluigi Buffon, 6 -- Tried to rescue Juventus for the Sassuolo goal but to no avail. A routine performance from the goalkeeper.
DF Stephan Lichtsteiner, 4 -- Woeful performance from the defender, who often left gaping holes at the back and was at fault for Sassuolo's goal. Poor positioning and poor concentration; lucky to not have conceded more on account of his mistakes.
DF Daniele Rugani, 6 -- Must play with greater authority at the back and make his voice heard. Still a little meek in his performances but contained Diego Falcinelli and Matteo Politano well.
DF Giorgio Chiellini, 6 -- Not bad considering he just got back from injury. Pushed forward to help create Juve's first goal. Strong and physical.
DF Alex Sandro, 6 -- Provided his usual performance on the left, pushing well and delivering the accuracy required while he was on hand to clear the ball. Not yet in his optimum condition.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 7 -- Another excellent performance from the Bosnian, who is playing with greater consistency and maturity this season. Intercepted well, passed beautifully and dictated the play in general.
MF Blaise Matuidi, 7 -- Good tactically, covered a lot of ground, pressed the opponent and contributed to both the defence and attack admirably well. One criticism is that he needs to make quicker decisions when on the ball.
MF Juan Cuadrado, 6 -- Delivered the assist for Dybala's second and produced several key passes but squandered a beautiful opportunity at the end. Better with his decision making on the day.
MF Paulo Dybala, 9 -- Another perfect performance and another hat trick from the Argentine wonder on his 100th appearance. Majestic in Serie A this season -- if only he managed such magic on the big occasions on a more consistent level. Great movement and even better finishing.
MF Mario Mandzukic, 6 -- Delivered a beautiful assist that Dybala converted but is he really a forward anymore? Helps provide balance to the side, assisting and providing for his teammates.
FW Gonzalo Higuain, 5 -- Not in the best of form. Squandered a great opportunity and looks low on confidence. However, to his credit, he sacrificed himself to create space for Dybala, moving well in the final third.
DF Andrea Barzagli, N/R -- Brought security and safety to the back.
MF Douglas Costa, N/R -- Delivered the perfect cut back only for Cuadrado to squander the opportunity. Showed such strength to hold off defenders and create excitement while he even tackled well. Demonstrating signs of being a phenomenon.
MF Federico Bernadeschi, N/R -- Not on long enough to make an impact.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.