Mourinho backs Dybala to shine on Juventus return

·3-min read

Jose Mourinho backed Paulo Dybala to make an impact when he returns to Juventus as a Roma player on Saturday, as he praised the Argentina forward's contribution since joining the Giallorossi.

Roma have recorded back-to-back 1-0 wins over Salernitana and Cremonese to start the Serie A season, and Saturday's clash in Turin represents a real test of both sides' Scudetto credentials.

The Giallorossi's acquisition of Dybala, who left Juventus upon the expiration of his contract in July, was regarded as something as a coup after he scored 82 league goals during a seven-year spell in Turin.

That haul places Dybala 10th in Juventus' all-time Serie A goalscoring charts, making him the highest-scoring non-European player in their league history and their fourth-most prolific non-Italian (after John Hansen, David Trezeguet and John Charles).

Asked how Dybala will handle the prospect of returning to his former club, Mourinho said: "It depends on the personality of the individual. For some players coming home is nothing, for others it is difficult. For others it is 50-50.

"For Paulo I don't know, he has the face of a child but he is not. He has a lot of experience, then the control of his emotions depends on him.

"From how he worked these days I have not seen anything different. I expect a normal game, maybe with a little more emotion than before."

Asked about Dybala's impact since his arrival, Mourinho added: "For me it is very good. I did not expect more at the moment. In the last two years he has had little continuity. He did not start the pre-season like the others, he arrived late.

"At the [Stadio] Olimpico playing on that surface is really hard, it's like running on a Portuguese beach! I see him well and with good character."

Paulo Dybala
Paulo Dybala

Juventus have won 85 of their 176 Serie A matches against Roma, recording more league victories over the Giallorossi than against any other club, and triumphed 4-3 when the sides last met at the Stadio Olimpico in January.

But Mourinho called for his team to put past meetings behind them, as he declared Roma would not be satisfied with a draw at the Allianz Stadium.

"Playing against a top team is nice, but it is nothing special compared to usual. I have played many times in Turin, tomorrow will be one more. There is no connection with the past," he added.

"First of all, we have to think that every match is an isolated match. This Juve-Roma has nothing to do with the next or the last one.

"What happened in the past shouldn't affect us. We can prepare the team as best we can, but we always do it. It's not that we do it more with Juve than we did with Cremonese.

"Last year in Turin [a 1-0 defeat in October 2021] we played to win, we played well. Regardless of what happened, I was happy with the attitude, not the result.

"I expect the same attitude. Roma must try to win. We are not going to play for a draw, we want to win tomorrow. We will go there to win, if we lose then we will lose."

Mourinho has lost his last two matches against Juventus; throughout his entire managerial career, he has only recorded more than two consecutive defeats against a single opponent on one occasion, losing four successive games against Liverpool in the Premier League as Chelsea boss.