COMMENT By Richard Parks
There is little doubt that Massimo Allegri’s Wednesday night revelation that Gonzalo Higuain is in line to miss Tottenham’s Champions League showdown against Juventus next week is a game-changing development.
It is a huge boost to the Londoners, whose defenders will be doing cartwheels at the prospect of not facing a striker who brings a cast-iron guarantee of goals.
Higuain, 30, is every bit as important to Juventus as Harry Kane is to Tottenham.
The Argentine goal king’s track record as one of the most dangerous centre-forwards on the planet speaks for itself.
He scored twice in the opening 10 minutes of the first leg in Turin, including a brilliantly-taken opener while the Champions League anthem still filled the night air, and could have had a first-half hat-trick before half-time.
With 20 goals already this season and 52 in 90 Juve matches, the 30-year-old’s predatory instincts, honed during his Napoli and Real Madrid days, will be hugely missed by his side if he doesn’t make the second leg.
Juve manager Massimo Allegri revealed in the aftermath of his side’s 1-0 Coppa Italia triumph over Atalanta on Wednesday night, which secured his side a place in the final, that the Argentina international is struggling to recover from an ankle injury suffered in a league match against Torino.
The prolific striker did not even make the matchday squad against Atalanta and is now in a race against time to be fit for the second leg at Wembley next Wednesday.
The scoreline is locked at 2-2 following the thriller in Turin but Allegri is not willing to risk Higuain’s long-term fitness just to play him in London.
“As for Gonzalo Higuain, risking him for one game makes no sense,” said Allegri, as quoted by Football Italia. “We want him back in shape going forward.
“Higuain is not available right now, he hasn’t trained for a few days and we’ll see if he is available on Saturday. That is the most important game right now, because London and Tottenham can wait. It’s not an obsession.
“I realise it’s an important game in a marvellous stadium and we want to progress with a good performance on the European stage, but it mustn’t be an obsession.
“There are always moments in a season where things go wrong and there are injuries, but we won’t waste time crying over spilt milk. We should always thing positive and will always find a way.”
Higuain is running out of time. There are just six days before the two sides go head to head at Wembley for what promises to be a mouthwatering encounter.
Should Juventus be deprived of their main goalscorer, it will be a huge boost to Tottenham and the odds will fall further in their favour of securing a last-eight berth in Europe’s premier competition.
In other Tottenham news, a forward has agreed the terms of a contract with the club in a huge move.