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Allegri: Higuain can make the difference and win us games

Manager’s comments after Juventus finally unlock Olympiakos

Juventus v Olympiakos Piraeus - UEFA Champions League Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

Juventus needed Gonzalo Higuain to come on as a second half substitute to finally breach a plucky Olympiakos side who came for a draw and very nearly got it too. After the game, manager Massimiliano Allegri spoke to the media about resting the Argentine striker once again.

“I made a choice. Higuain was in less good shape compared to the others, but already tonight he was moving his legs quicker and had the right determination.

“He has never been a problem and never will be. He’s a player who can make the difference and win us games.”

Allegri also talked about the opponents on the day and how they frustrated the home team.

“This evening Juventus played an intelligent game with patience. We ran a few risks on their counters, Olympiakos had just changed Coach and played very well defensively. They closed up the spaces and we didn’t move the ball quickly enough, but as they ran out of steam and loosened up just a little, we broke through.”

Was the manager going to take the credit for breaking Higuain out of his slump?

“Pipita deserves the credit, because as I always say, help yourself and God will help you. Higuain won along with his teammates last season, but that is all history now. This is a new season, everyone wants to beat Juventus and everyone here has to challenge themselves every single day. If they don’t do that, they get left behind.”

Miralem Pjanic withdrew from the starting eleven after getting injured in the warmup, with Rodrigo Bentancur filling in. Douglas Costa also got a starting berth in the side.

“Bentancur played well, above all when tracking back to tackle and recover the ball. What he needs to improve on a lot, and we will work on it in training, is receiving the ball so he can send vertical passes. His positioning on the short passes needs improvement.

“Douglas Costa needs to ask more of himself, but he loves playing for his teammates and setting them up. He is settling in well in a league that is completely different to what he is accustomed to in Germany.”

Stefano Sturaro got the call again at right back with both Mattia De Sciglio and Benedikt Howedes injured and Stephan Lichtsteiner not named in Champions League squad.

“He can become important in that role, as he can run hard and has good technique. You can see now he is thinking when the ball reaches his feet, he’s not as fluid in the movement as he was in midfield, but that will come with time. I think he can have a fine career in that position.”

Higuain also spoke to the media, and was exuding confidence after his game-winning performance.

“I didn’t feel freed of a weight on my shoulders. I always felt free. I’ve been playing in Europe for over 10 years and have always scored a lot of goals, so I was not remotely disturbed.

“The important thing is to keep working in silence, as that is what gets you back to the result. I am not disturbed by criticism or insults, it’s all about having faith in yourself.

“Anyone can talk now, but those who really matter are the ones who stay close to you even when things are going badly. The fans really fired me up before I came on and I thank them.

“The credit goes to those who stood by me, who helped me and my teammates who ran to hug me. This was one of the most wonderful moments of my career.”