It’s time to talk about Paulo Dybala. Actually, it was probably time to talk about Dybala two months ago, when he was rightly titillating the interest of the Barcelona board, possibly plugging a recently-emerged Neymar-sized hole in their starting XI. But even since then, Dybala has gone to a whole new level. Is it time to start talking about Dybala as being one of the very best in the world?
For years, Serie A was regarded as something of an old man’s game. No doubt aided by MilanLab’s ability to keep players on the pitch far beyond their expected sell-by date, there was a collective notion that Italian football wasn’t the font of youth and energy that was found in France, Germany or Britain. Players made their debuts later and continued to play well into their thirties. The likes of Seedorf, Gattusso and Pirlo lasted longer in Serie A than they would in other leagues.
Serie A was struck by storms this weekend. While the United States was dealing with the horrors of the hurricanes, areas such as Livorno experienced their own extreme weather and loss of life. Miraculously, all but one match took place.
There were surprises. AC Milan faced its first real challenge and failed spectacularly. Fiorentina’s new-look side seemed to click and ran out 5-0 winners against a hapless Verona team. There were also more run-of-the-mill fixtures. Juventus won. Napoli won. Inter won. Fairly standard, really.
This past Saturday, Spain hosted Italy in a World Cup qualifier at the Bernabeu in Madrid. Both sides have won the competition in the post-millennial age and can justifiably feel bitter about being drawn in the same group. Italy, who have a well-established tradition of being utterly awful in the qualifying rounds of international tournaments yet miraculously not losing, are now at risk of finishing second in the group.
It's been said on this website that on recent form Isco is the best player in the world. I have not been saying this, but Isco made me a believer today with his performance in Spain's 3-0 win against Italy, all but guaranteeing them World Cup qualification.
Isco's first goal was a beautiful free kick that hopefully ensures Sergio Ramos never again decides he should be the one to take set pieces for Spain.
No matter where Ravel Morrison goes or what he does with his career, there’ll always follow a quote from former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson regarding his prodigious talents as a teenager: “Sadly, there are examples of players who have similar backgrounds to [Ryan] Giggs or Cristiano Ronaldo, who, despite enormous talent, just aren’t emotionally or mentally strong enough to overcome the hurts of their childhood and their inner demons.
Major League Soccer may be a retirement home for some, but David Villa affirmed last week you can still factor into one of the best national teams in the world while plying your trade in MLS.
So why can’t Sebastian Giovinco get a recall from Italy?
Villa earned a spot on the Spanish roster for the two upcoming World Cup qualifiers after starting the season with 19 league goals for New York City FC. These aren’t throw-away qualifiers either; Spain faces Italy for first place in UEFA Group G on Saturday.
When do we begin to take Milan seriously?
Before we continue with this week’s column, it’s essential that we pause for a moment. On Sunday evening, Andrea Belotti did something. Something fantastic. The goal he scored — a first-time overhead volley — deserves a moment of reverence. That’s why the man has a $120 million release clause in his contract. Let’s take a pause here and appreciate the goal.
Andrea Belotti is not generally mentioned in conversations concerning the elite strikers in Europe, but it is looking more and more like the Torino man should be.
Belotti hopped on his bike Sunday against Sassuolo and scored a goal for the ages.
Andrea Belotti has your goal of the weekend covered pic.twitter.com/twoQ7RK6qj— LuisMiguelEchegaray (@lmechegaray) August 27, 2017