BLOG ITALIA
Tuesday September 26 2017
Higuain's malaise

As Juventus and Argentina prove Gonzalo Higuain is droppable, Daryl Hammond wonders how Pipita can shake off his current crisis.

“I preferred to give him a rest.”

That was the reasoning behind Massimiliano Allegri’s decision to bench Gonzalo Higuain for the Derby Della Mole against Torino.

And if one of Europe’s deadliest strikers had a better record than just two goals in eight matches, we might be more inclined to believe him - especially given the significance of the match.

Goals aren’t everything, but anyone who has watched the Argentine play of late will have noticed that all areas of his game have been lacking. Wayward passes, dismal dribbling and overall an inability to influence matches has seen his form called into question.

So, what is wrong with Higuain? Taking Allegri’s comments about fatigue at face value unlock some answers as to why the striker has not been his normal self lately. Higuain played in all but two of Juventus’ matches in all competitions last season, including every Serie A match and all but one of their Champions League games, as they reached the final for the second time in three seasons. It can be exhausting. Mentally and physically.

At the same time, this season is very different from his first with Juve. He doesn’t arrive at the club after exhausting, back-to-back Copa America tournaments (where Argentina reached the final in both years). Nor does he look anywhere near as unfit as he did last year, when he was mocked for his appearance and weight.

Higuain has so far only played two international matches this calendar year, having featured in 13 in 2016. Moreover, he was dropped from Jorge Sampaoli’s recent Argentina squad for crucial World Cup qualifiers in favour of Mauro Icardi, giving him another break from the jading flights to South American and back.

Of course, Higuain’s malaise is accentuated by teammate Paulo Dybala’s crazy run of form in the past few weeks. While Gonzalo toils for his third goal of the campaign, La Joya is already in double figures. While his talent was in little doubt, Dybala seems to have found a goal-scoring touch that could see him post ‘Higuain numbers’ in terms of goals this year. At the same time, Paulo’s resurgence takes a huge weight off the shoulders of his compatriot.

Allegri later added in his post-match interview that Gonzalo “just needs to rediscover the calm of not feeling the need to score all the time.” For the Coach, it won’t matter too who puts the ball in the net at the moment, with Napoli topping the table, Inter breathing down their necks, plus a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Barcelona in their opening Champions League match to bounce back from.

Allegri doesn’t necessarily need Higuain in tip top form now. But he will. How Higuain reacts will be a determining factor in how the rest of his season goes. Rest or not, the Torino match proved Higuain is droppable, especially as Allegri played him every chance he could last year. He may have to fight for his place in the team should the Bianconeri continue to convince in spite of his absence.

At the same time, the physical and mental rest could be just the tonic he needed. Despite being the goal machine he is, no player is immune to a dip in form. Moreover, at a club like Juventus and for a player like Higuain, the bar is higher than most.

Pipita always has a nose for goal, and it will be difficult to see Higuain going too long without another few.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
To CG, I would rather have a loser status than be forever tagged with doping cheats like Juventus are and always will be. Napoli may be thought of as losers but Juventus will always be thought of as cheats who dope their players
on the 27th September, 2017 at 6:29pm
Last year he had no competition for place. This year with the depth on the wings, Manzo is his competition and Pipta can't compete with his work rate off the ball right now. Once his confidence is up and he starts hitting the back of the net this will change.
on the 27th September, 2017 at 4:25pm
I'm petty sure that being dropped by Argentina had a major impact on him.
I don't see how is that a positve thing, despite that being considerd a break.

And people say he chokes in big games.. But notice that happens when Juve loses, which is usually when the whole team was playing badly.

Nonetheless, he needs to step up and shake this off.
on the 27th September, 2017 at 2:46am
Mandzukic may not score as many as Higuain, but Saturday night proved how much better we are with him as the main striker. Mario does an amazing job on the left, but with a natural winger like Douglas Costa out there our attack is given a new dimension. Mandzukic's fitness, running power, hold up play & selflessness is far superior to Higuain's which allowed us to play faster than at any other time this season. Higuain will score again but do we really need him long term. I don't think so.
on the 27th September, 2017 at 1:03am
When we bought Higuain I was happy. Maybe buying him from Napoli made it worthwhile, but 90M Euro for a 28-year old was a big gamble & it was always in my mind that we had bought him three years too late. Yes, he scored 32 goals last season & did score some big goals, but his obvious lack of fitness and professionalism makes him really hard to like. Mandzukic is adored because of his supreme conditioning, stamina and work-rate something that should be a given to Higuain who is two years younger.
on the 27th September, 2017 at 12:42am
Higuain is one of the best poachers in the world. Viktor's and others nonsense are welcome.
on the 26th September, 2017 at 7:39pm
God knows what Allegri has told him behind closed doors. I suppose it went something like this:"Look Gonzalo, we've paid a lot of money for you and so far this season you have not delivered. The fans and the media are starting to get on your back which is only going to affect your confidence even more. So, sit on the bench and chill for now until I feel you are ready to come back son. Don't worry, I will take care of the press. I will feed them bull about you needing a rest"
on the 26th September, 2017 at 2:56pm
Just a lack of confidence, he was playing well but not scoring (e.g. vs Genoa) until his last couple of games where his performances weren't good. Once he scores again he'll be fine.
on the 26th September, 2017 at 2:03pm
The reason behind Higuain's recent dips in form is due to Dybala realizing that it is better finishing off by himself than pass to a fatso with a conversion rate lesser than his. Higuain may score alot, but only given if he is fed a ton! The guy is incapable of creating his own chances, and now he is desperate to find a goal and doesn't wish to make play for Dybala because he doesn't want the gap to widen more than it already has. Higuain is a selfish and useless player.
on the 26th September, 2017 at 1:32pm
Higuain is too certain of his place in the team and needs to be kept on his toes; he needs healthy competition and this can be done by using Mandzukic and even Pjaca up top more often.
on the 26th September, 2017 at 1:10pm
I have no doubt Higuain will eventually find his form sooner or later. This guy is a proven champion. He reminds me of Inzaghi at Juve when he couldn't score almost 2 months and people started to doubt him and called him over-rated. And then he proved them wrong.
on the 26th September, 2017 at 12:06pm
All strikers go through a dry period when they can't hit the back of the net and now its his turn to go through that. My concern is that even when he starts scoring in the league again - he will still choke in big games - when Juve need him the most. Maybe the ghost of that glaring miss in the 2014 WC against Germany is still haunting him...
on the 26th September, 2017 at 11:44am
Juve have a ton of firepower this year with Bernardeschi, Douglas and Pjaca. I was upset Juve loaned out Moise Kean because in preseason he was on fire, I totally saw him taking Gonzalo's place. I am very upset for Gonzalo, but he's proven time and time again that he does not the mentality of a champion. Instead of gritting his teeth/fighting, he looks dejected/depressed which is not what champions do. He needs to sit out and get in line, once he returns to being the best he can start.
on the 26th September, 2017 at 11:30am
As much as it pains me, this article is 100% right. I longed for Higuaín to join Juve (and perhaps he should have come straight after Real Madrid, instead of going to Napoli and winning nothing, and being influenced by their loser status). I would rest him for another two games. He played far too many last season, and he does need a mental and physical rest. Mandzukic is good, but won't score volume. Higuaín must step up.
on the 26th September, 2017 at 11:27am
Difficult time for him! His days at RM and Napoli were not as pressured as this, not cos it's juve but because of the 90M. Also this is meant to be his peak, does he have the fight in him? I think not he will gloat when he wins but tears up when he doesn't that says it all, compared to Dybala he is second rate and I'm talking from when Dybala first arrived, had Hig not joined Dybala would have got those goals!!!Hig has had his chance and is not good enough, he is a small pond guy.....
on the 26th September, 2017 at 11:26am
Higuain has no place in 4-2-3-1. The system needs players like Benzema who run their asses off and support play.

Mandzukic fits the bill way way more than an overweight Higuain.
on the 26th September, 2017 at 9:45am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.