Chiellini: Gonzalo Higuain one of world’s three best No 9s

Date published: Monday 8th May 2017 9:17

Juventus boast in Gonzalo Higuain one of the top three number nines in world football, according to the striker’s team-mate Giorgio Chiellini.

The Argentinian’s two goals in Juventus’ 2-0 win in Monaco last week mean the Italians head into the second leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday in control of the tie.

Much of the talk in the build-up to the first leg had focused on Monaco’s brilliant 18-year-old striker Kylian Mbappe, but neither he nor veteran strike partner Radamel Falcao could find a way past Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Higuain, in contrast, was at his clinical best, finally taking his domestic form on to the biggest stage with his first goals in a Champions League knock-out game in four years.

The 29-year-old scored again in the 1-1 derby draw with Torino at the weekend, taking his tally for the season to 32 in all competitions.

And defender Chiellini is believes Higuain’s goal-scoring instincts are as good as anyone’s.

He said at a press conference: “Higuain is a complete striker, surely among the best three nines in the world.”

Juve, who are on the verge of a sixth straight title, reached the final in Berlin two years ago only to lose out to Barcelona.

But Chiellini believes the current side is better equipped to go all the way this time.

“I’d say the greatest difference between this Juventus and the one you saw in the final two years ago is inner belief,” he said.

“I don’t think any of us really expected to go all the way to Berlin, but we grew into the competition as it went on. We showed maybe a little too much respect to Barcelona in the final and that showed in our performance.

“This time around we know how to manage the key moments and we have the confidence to go toe to toe with Europe’s best in the knowledge that we have what it takes to beat them.”

Boss Massimiliano Allegri had a predictable note of caution for his side, warning them their job is not done yet against a Monaco side who scored 12 goals across their last-16 and quarter-final ties.

“Monaco will play an open and care-free match,” he said. “We will have to be careful because they have great talent.”

Juve have no new injury concerns and Sami Khedira is available again after missing the first leg through suspension. The German will compete for a midfield spot with Claudio Marchisio and Miralem Pjanic.

 

Jardim in plea to Monaco players

Leonardo Jardim: Welcomes Premier League interest

Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim accepts his team face an uphill battle to make it to the final in Cardiff, but urged his players to defy expectations one more time.

“I am very happy and proud of my players,” said Jardim, whose side began their Champions League campaign in July with qualifying wins over Fenerbahce and Villarreal.

“Everyone would like to get to the final. They have shown the football world a lot. Nobody believed in July we would reach the group stage.

“Now we are at halfway and we want to continue with our dreams. We will make the most of this game and do everything to ensure that it is not our last.”

The Ligue 1 leaders still have a doubt over left-back Benjamin Mendy, who missed the first leg and the weekend win at Nancy.

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