Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Allegri has faith in misfiring Higuain ahead of Turin derby

SoccerNews in Serie A 22 Sep 2017

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Juventus have “total faith” in Gonzalo Higuain during a slow start to the season for the star striker, according to coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Higuain, signed from Napoli for €90million in July 2016, has netted just twice from seven appearances in all competitions for Juve early in 2017-18.

He fired blanks in a 3-0 Champions League loss at Barcelona and also failed to hit the back of the net as the Scudetto holders defeated Sassuolo away and Fiorentina at home in Serie A.

Allegri, though, has no concerns about the Argentina international ahead of the derby against Torino on Saturday.

“The most important thing is that Higuain has total faith from his team-mates, the coach, the club and the fans,” he told a news conference.

“These periods happen to every striker when the ball doesn’t go in for two or three games, but he will break through.

“He played well on Wednesday night [against Fiorentina].” 

Torino, who finished ninth last term, have made a strong start to this campaign, winning three and drawing two of their first five leagues matches, leaving Allegri wary of Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side.

“The Derby della Mole is always a special game for the city and the fans,” he said.

“It’s twice as important for us, because it’s a derby and worth three points, so we must win.

“Torino are much stronger than they have been in the past, but Juve have good defenders who can counter the technical quality of their players. This season they brought in more solid players in defence and midfield too.

“Torino were already strong last season and have been completed with players suited to their character, like Tomas Rincon, Cristian Ansaldi and M’Baye Niang, so they can target a top-six finish.”

Juve have dominated Italian football under Allegri and his predecessor Antonio Conte but have fallen short in the Champions League, losing the 2015 and 2017 finals to Barca and Real Madrid respectively.

Nevertheless, the coach insisted Serie A remains the Bianconeri’s primary focus.

“The fans were close to us on Wednesday, as they always are, but it must be clear that winning [the league] is not normal,” he said.

“It is always extraordinary and with each year that passes, winning becomes even more difficult.

“Each season is different to the last and for us winning a seventh consecutive Scudetto must become the primary objective, because nobody has done that other than Lyon,” he added, referring to the French side’s streak of Ligue 1 triumphs between 2002 and 2008. 

“We need enthusiasm in the club, the squad and the fans, because that’s only right. That’s how it should be.”

Allegri confirmed that Benedikt Howedes and Mattia De Sciglio will miss out due to injury, but Sami Khedira is available and off-season recruits Blaise Matuidi and Federico Bernardeschi are in contention for a place in the starting XI.

Defender Andrea Barzagli will be rested. 

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