Gonzalo Higuain put in another clinic for Juventus to guide the club to a 2-0 victory over Sassuolo to take Massimiliano Allegri’s men four points clear at the top of Serie A. I Bianconeri are on their way to securing their sixth title on the spin – in part down to the Argentine’s brilliance in front of the net.
Against Sassuolo he was at his predatory best in front of goal, scoring in the ninth minute to put his team ahead before assisting the second for Sami Khedira to find the net. The 29-year-old has matched all expectations of him since signing from Juve’s Serie A rivals Napoli in the summer.
Higuain has been a star in the Italian top flight, enjoying the best form of his career and even surpassing the heights he soared to during his seven years with Real Madrid. However, he has struggled to reach the peak of his powers in the international arena, despite a decent scoring record with 31 goals to his name in 67 appearances.
Most of his strikes have come against inferior opposition with the highlight of his career with La Albiceleste being his hat-trick in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup against South Korea. The 29-year-old has also endured hardships playing for his country, none more so than his one-on-one miss against Manuel Neuer in the 2014 World Cup final that would have put his side ahead in the contest.
Higuain did find the back of the net later in the match at the Maracana, but his effort was ruled out for offside and he was later substituted for Rodrigo Palacio before Germany went on to the win the match in extra time. Argentina have struggled to get over the hump at major tournaments, despite the presence of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Higuain in their frontline.
As a result, La Albiceleste will be determined to use the last years of their potent striker’s international career in one last attempt to win the World Cup in 2018. Argentina are backed in the latest international football betting odds at 8/1 to triumph at the competition in Russia and secure the trophy for the third time in their history.
Higuain’s problems translating his form could be down to his role in the side as he and Aguero play with similar styles – both men are poachers in the box. Therefore he may have to alter his style of play fit into the side, although with Messi in the team any striker should be able to thrive on the service they usually provide.
The 29-year-old seems to suffer from the English disease of cracking under the pressure, but only in big games on international duty. How many times did Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard produce magical moments in the Premier League at critical times, but go missing for the Three Lions in the Euros and the World Cup?
Higuain has suffered a similar issue with his miss in the World Cup final and a penalty shoot-out miss against Chile in the 2015 Copa America final. Desperation to perform can heap pressure on even the best of players as Messi has found at international level. Higuain must find a way to relax to bring out the world-class player that has been seen week in and week out in Serie A boosting La Albiceleste’s pursuit of the World Cup.