Monday, October 23, 2017

Higuain has never been an issue – Allegri lauds decisive display

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 27 Sep 2017

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Massimiliano Allegri feels Gonzalo Higuain has regained his belief and self-confidence after the Argentinian came off the bench to inspire Juventus to a 2-0 win over Olympiacos.

Juve looked set to be frustrated in their search for a first win in Group D of the Champions League until 69 minutes in at Allianz Stadium, where Higuain thumped home from close range 10 minutes after coming on.

Higuain was key to Juve’s second goal, carving open Olympiacos’ defence to tee up Paulo Dybala, whose blocked strike was headed in by Mario Mandzukic.

It represents a timely return to form for the 29-year-old, who had scored just twice this season prior to Wednesday’s encounter, and Allegri believes the striker will soon be back at his best.

“Higuain has been decisive, he is in great condition and is confident, two appearances from the bench have made him believe,” Allegri told Premium Sport.

“I excluded Higuain from kick-off because he was not as good as the others. Tonight he had the right attitude. He has never been a problem, he makes the difference.

“He is a player who is fundamental to us because he is a player who scored 30 goals last season that served to win the Scudetto, the Champions League and the Coppa Italia.”

Allegri – who confirmed that Juve will have to wait for news on the extent of an injury Miralem Pjanic picked up in the warm up – also praised his side for their patience during what was a hard-fought victory against stubborn opponents.

“I’m happy with what the boys did. We played a well-organised team,” Allegri continued.

“Then in the end they dropped their guard, and we continued with patience, trying to win the game, so it was a test of maturity.”

Olympiacos coach Takis Lemonis, meanwhile, was looking to take the positives from his side’s resilient performance.

“We had the opportunity to get more from the encounter,” Hasi told reporters.

“We had just two training sessions in order to prepare and we focused on our defensive strategy and how to intercept balls and break into counters.

“I have mixed feelings right now, a rather bittersweet sensation. One cannot be happy with a defeat. But we have a good squad and quality players.”

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