Tuesday February 13 2018
Higuain and the Hurricane

Gonzalo Higuain faces one of Europe’s most revered strikers in Harry Kane and needs a big performance of his own, explains Nick Valerio. 

Gonzalo Higuain has spent what probably feels like his whole career defying the critics, so the pre-match talk surrounding Juventus’ Round of 16 clash with Tottenham Hotspur has been notable.

The likes of Paulo Dybala, Miralem Pjanic and Dele Alli have all occupied the column inches in the build-up, but none more so than Lilywhites star Harry Kane. The goal machine recently celebrated his 100th Premier League goal and is being positioned as the key man, while Higuain has gone under the radar.

This could work in the Bianconeri’s favour. Perception has cost Pipita equal billing and his record demands respect. While the England hitman has notched over three figures in under four campaigns, his opposite number has similar numbers, and this can fuel Higuain on Tuesday night.

The ex-Napoli hero is hitting his stride at just the right time, bagging six goals in his last four matches, and must continue this rich vein of form in a genuine 50/50 contest. The North London club are incredibly strong at Wembley and the onus is on Higuain to make his mark on the opening tie to give his teammates a good chance of progressing to the quarter-finals.

The scrutiny may be focused on Higuain, but Kane too will be closely watched, particularly by Real Madrid and fellow heavyweights on the continent. The Walthamstow talent will come up against Giorgio Chiellini and Medhi Benatia, two stalwarts who live for defending, and Kane is in for a real test.

This Juventus team has kept 11 consecutive clean sheets domestically and the visiting striker is unlikely to be gifted a host of chances the way he is on a Saturday afternoon in the Premier League.   

Higuain may be six years Kane’s senior, but there are many parallels between the pair. The South American spent three seasons plundering the goals in Naples before accepting an offer too good to refuse from the Italian champions. Englishman Kane has hit over 20 goals in the last four terms and, realistically, will only have a golden boot to show for it in May.

Kane has racked up individual honours, but is expected to receive an offer, ironically, from Higuain’s former club in Spain either this summer or next, and he will have a decision to make. Kane’s obvious talent deserves to be winning team honours on a regular basis, just like Higuain.

The criticism most often levelled at Higuain is that he doesn't score in the knockout fixtures of the Champions League. He answered that last season with a brace against Monaco in the semi-final, yet it was also the only time he has found the net in a two-legged clash for Juve or Napoli. Kane has no comparison to make, as Spurs haven't been out of the group stage until now. Will he too prove to be a group game goal-getter and a do-or-die dud?

The attackers are also comparable on a playing level. Neither are particularly quick, though Kane is no slouch, and both are classic centre-forwards in an era where False Nines have shot to prominence. The most obvious link between the two is their ability to test the keeper and nine times out of 10 they will hit the target. The statistics speak for themselves and Higuain will relish the opportunity of showing he’s just as likely to hit the net as his rival.

Don’t write off the Bianconeri marksman just yet. Higuain may not be the fashionable choice, but he is ruthless through on goal and has the credentials to influence the outcome of a mouth-watering first leg in Turin. 

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Have your say...
Traditionally at Juventus it is the flair players that command the most respect from the fans.
And it is no surprise that the best performances this season have been given by Pjanic and Dybala.
The 2 top the list as far as average ratings go.
on the 15th February, 2018 at 12:47am
Juventus must regroup and make sure that they prepare well for the return leg.

Nothing is lost as yet and surely Juve can play much better than this.

At the end of the day, a draw doesn't compromise anything as yet, and the qualification is still there to be played for...........
on the 14th February, 2018 at 5:05am
@anti juve ..... does it really matter. Juventus is ths 5th most successful team in the media has robbed you of a brain. In the 80s milan were relefated for match fixining but none of u talk about that. 30 yrs from now nobody will remember your comments. Winning is everything! Forza juve!
on the 14th February, 2018 at 2:36am
Winning the league again will only make Juventus look hopeless without any European success. They were all over the place defensively. Either the Italian league is seriously weak, like the scottish league, or Juventus are a poor representation of italian football. I thought Juventus were too deep at times and did not get away with their usual fouling & time-wasting/slowing the game down. They gave too much time to Spurs midfielders and they got punished. They have only let 1 goal in 16
on the 14th February, 2018 at 12:18am
I don't believe the current manager is the right one for the club. Juventus can win the champions league with a bit more grit and determination. If they play Dybala instead of being 'injured' in round 16 again they might win this cup. They play too many defensive inter tactics! It is effective in Italy but not in European competition. Juve were the only hope for Italy. Milan are a proper Italian team that achieve more global respect. Sadly, Juventus are weak due to the manager silly priorities.
on the 14th February, 2018 at 12:13am
Juve have no game plan except to counter attack teams. They played a decent European team today and got found out as they usually do when they do not play at 100%. Juventus european form is very poor and a let down for the league. All hard work without any real quality. Sadly, Juventus believe winning another league and italian cup is their top priority. 30 odd league titles and only 2 european cups and 8 defeats in finals. Juventus need to wake up and become a global brand not just in Italy.
on the 14th February, 2018 at 12:07am
No, realistically Juve couldn't sign Kane for a combination of several factors, too many to mention. It is complicated, principally as the Premiership is now a very rich League, and by reflection the price of good locally grown players is over inflated. The very same was true of Italian Serie A for several decades, when our Clubs were the richest kids on the block. It is also worth mentioning that of course Juve wouldn't pay fat prices for British forwards given the sour experience with Ian Rush
on the 13th February, 2018 at 11:55pm
@Mustafa as an Arsenal fan its very hard to say but Kane scored more goals then Messi last calender year and your pipita is no where near kane as he does not bottles it every now and then
on the 13th February, 2018 at 10:34pm
Oh my! There's nothing like watching Juve's frustration when the ref isn't totally bought off! They're gifted two penalties and still can't beat Tottenham of all teams. Watching Juve implode and the players not be able to believe that the ref wasn't calling everything in their favour (maybe they didn't bribe him enough for a third penalty) is beautiful.

And Higuain, once again crumbling under the pressure and showing that in big games, he's worthless.
on the 13th February, 2018 at 10:19pm
@Anon I'm sure I could do better, but remarkably Juve haven't contacted me to bribe me to stop yet, so I'll keep telling everyone the truth about Juventus, the shame of Italy.
on the 13th February, 2018 at 9:45pm
@Pino - Is that it, as trolling goes that was pretty weak. Surely you can do better if you put your mind to it. 
on the 13th February, 2018 at 7:11pm
Higuain is awful and like cheating Juve, he never shows up in big games. Ever. Even if Juve get past the Spurs they'll never win the Champion's League - because they can't bribe their way to that trophy (unlike the Scudetto).
on the 13th February, 2018 at 6:22pm
Kane nowhere Higuaín's League. Pipita is the best Number 9 Juve have ever signed after Trezeguet.
on the 13th February, 2018 at 4:59pm
@CARPE DIEM - i also always dismiss rumours like that. it's not that i think we couldn't pay 100 million or more for a single player, it's that those players often demand wages far in excess of 7 million € and that's what would prove to be the stumbling block for such a transfer to Juventus. Juve's wages budget is pretty huge but it's still relatively responsible at least when compared to PSG's and Real Madrid's of the world
on the 13th February, 2018 at 1:53pm
First of all we can discount categorically the rumour about Juventus trying to sign Kane in the summer.
It ain't going to happen.........
Juve not interested, and in any case the price of the player is far too high for our Club.
Then of course both Higuain and Kane are TOP players.
on the 13th February, 2018 at 8:55am
Prob like many juve fans I think hig is over rated. Defo no trezeguet, who was sooo much better than both hig and Kane! I think as long as hig moves a defender or 2 he will at least allow space for another to exploit and score, but that's about it, for me Dybala is better and far more influential. As for Kane I think he is good but there is no pressure doing it for spurs, he needs to show he can do it when a whole club is expecting the league!!!
on the 13th February, 2018 at 7:27am

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