Juventus went to Zagreb for their second Champions League clash of the campaign against Dinamo knowing a win was vital. A scoreless home draw with Sevilla was not exactly how they planned to open Group H and with some suspect Serie A performances in between, the pressure was on the Bianconeri to deliver.
When they needed somebody to step up, Miralem Pjanic did just that. He played just 45 minutes, but made a match-winning impact. Taken off at the interval following a first half knock, the Bosnian had already left his mark on the contest. He opened the scoring and then provided an assist for Gonzalo Higuain’s strike. That sent Juve on the road to a comfortable 4-0 victory.
It was one of Pjanic’s best showings in a Black and White shirt. It also served to prove that going forward his best role is not that of a deep-lying midfielder, but alongside that player. He was tasked with sitting deepest in midfield against Inter and was hardly in the game. In truth, it was a poor performance all-round from Juventus. But it was not what they were expecting from the summer addition from Roma, who had minimal impact.
The goal against Dinamo was Pjanic’s second, having also netted against Sassuolo. In both games he was given licence to move further forward and the team reaped the rewards. Pjanic was inside the penalty area to pounce on a defensive error on Tuesday and slot home the opening goal. He then turned provider for Higuain, a sumptuous ball over the top which the Argentine controlled and finished.
Speaking after about his best position, Pjanic said: “People have been asking me that for five years. I put myself at the disposal of the Coach, as I already played in front of the defence at Roma and did well, it all depends on how the team plays and the movements. I also like being closer to the goal so I can set up the strikers.”
Paulo Dybala got off the mark for 2016-17 with a thunderbolt in the second half, before a deflected Dani Alves free kick rounded out the scoring in the final moments. It was Juve’s biggest away win in the competition for two decades and a marker laid down after some shaky performances. They top Group H on goal difference over Sevilla.
Juventus will be hoping to recover the Bosnian for their trip to Empoli this weekend, the last match before the international break. After his starring performance in Zagreb, we are starting to see the real Pjanic in Turin.
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