Thursday, August 16, 2018

Higuain back from the bench to start against Roma

SoccerNews in Serie A 12 May 2018

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Massimiliano Allegri confirmed Gonzalo Higuain will be back in the starting line-up as Juventus look to secure a seventh straight Scudetto at Roma on Sunday.

Higuain was dropped to the bench for Wednesday’s Coppa Italia final against AC Milan, with Mario Mandzukic chosen in attack alongside Paulo Dybala.

With Juve cruising to a 4-0 rout, Higuain was introduced with seven minutes to play as Dybala made way, but the Argentine duo will be reunited from the start as the Bianconeri return to the Stadio Olimpico this weekend.

Higuain has netted only two league goals since mid February but Allegri explained he was simply holding the striker back in case the Coppa final went into extra-time.

“Higuain and Dybala will play, then I’ll choose the others,” Allegri said in Saturday’s news conference, with Juve needing just a point to be certain of another Serie A crown.

“I opted to have Higuain on the bench with Federico Bernardeschi for the Coppa Italia final because it could’ve gone beyond 90 minutes. Higuain was a very important figure, as let’s not forget he scored the winners against Napoli and Inter.

“Wojciech Szczesny will start, not Gigi Buffon, while Juan Cuadrado is suspended, Benedikt Howedes and Giorgio Chiellini are injured. I still have to decide on Douglas Costa.

“When Mario Mandzukic comes off the bench, he’s a disaster. So either he’ll start or he’ll sit on the bench for the whole game. He’s been smiling a little more lately, as he’s going to the World Cup with Croatia.”

Some feel Napoli’s swashbuckling style means they are more deserving of lifting the title, a notion Allegri was quick to dismiss.

“Playing well or badly is relative, because the most difficult thing in the world is to win and combine it with good football,” he said. “The season is made up of so many moments and incidents, ups and downs for teams and individuals, so you have to work towards the result.

“We deserve credit for remaining calm after the defeat to Napoli. As things stand, they’ve still had an excellent season, keep improving their results and Sarri’s football is very pleasurable to watch. They’ve improved, as they won several games that they wouldn’t have won last year.

“They just happened to be up against a Juventus side that achieved remarkable results, but Napoli deserve praise for all they’ve done.”

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