Juventus v Napoli Preview: Higuain confident he can handle pressure

The top two in Italy go head-to-head at Juventus Stadium on Saturday night in a game that could go a long way to deciding who will claim this season’s Scudetto

Napoli talisman Gonzalo Higuain insists he can handle the pressure ahead of the Serie A leaders’ mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash with champions Juventus.

Maurizio Sarri’s men visit the Scudetto holders on Saturday with a two-point lead over them at the summit as both sides enjoy a run of stunning form.

Juventus are on a club-record 14-game winning streak in Serie A and will be favourites to win the title for the fifth consecutive season should they defeat Napoli.

Napoli are on a club-record winning run of their own, having taken maximum points from their last eight league encounters.

Their results in this campaign have owed much to the goalscoring prowess of Higuain, who is averaging a goal a game in the league with 24 to his name – a huge 11 clear of Juve’s Paulo Dybala, his closest challenger for the golden boot.

Higuain is just three short of his best tally in a European league, which came in 2009-10 when he scored 27 for Real Madrid.

Having played for Madrid and featured in the World Cup final for Argentina in 2014, Higuain is no stranger to pressure and he is keeping his cool ahead of the biggest game of the season.

“I am calm,” Higuain told Rai. “I have been playing football for many years and I am used to the pressure. 

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“Obviously there is a great desire to take to the pitch though – it is like a derby game.

“We know it is down to us, we have to remain calm and not get carried away with the euphoria because it could hurt us. It is better to keep our feet on the ground.”

Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus are still without Kwadwo Asamoah (thigh), Mario Mandzukic and Giorgio Chiellini (both calf) for the encounter in Turin.

Midfielder Paul Pogba is understandably keen to take maximum points from a pivotal clash, but is also determined to ensure Juve concentrate on their overall ambition.

“We will play to win against Napoli as always but the only thing that truly matters is finishing top of the pile,” Pogba told Juve’s website.

“We are still off the pace at the moment and that’s not something we are used to. What we have to do now is keep our heads, stay focused and not lose sight of what we want to achieve.”

Napoli claimed victory in the reverse fixture last September, with Higuain on target in a 2-1 success at Stadio San Paolo.

They have not completed the league double over Juve since the 2009-10 campaign and doing so for the fourth time in club history would put Napoli in a commanding position to end a 26-year wait to win the Scudetto again.

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