Sassuolo vs Juventus - Allegri wants to see a "big game" from Higuain



Posted Saturday, September 16, 2017 by PA

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri expects a "big game" from Gonzalo Higuain against Sassuolo on Sunday, having criticised the Argentina forward's midweek display against Barcelona.

The Bianconeri, Serie A winners for the past six seasons, went down 3-0 in their Champions League Group D opener at the Nou Camp on Tuesday night, with Allegri afterwards suggesting Higuain - largely ineffective and replaced late on by 17-year-old debutant Fabrizio Caligara - had allowed his head to drop.

They head to Reggio Emilia this weekend looking to continue their 100 per cent start to the league campaign, and Allegri believes he will see an improvement from the B£75million man.

"Higuain just needs to stay cool and composed, as usual," Allegri said at his pre-match press conference, quoted by the Italian press. "He has to play as he knows, and repeat the season he had last year - he and the rest of the team. (On Sunday) I expect a big game from Higuain.

"Last season he did well against Barcelona and was decisive against Monaco. The second half on Tuesday it is not fair to analyse him because we did not play as a team."

Allegri urged his side to learn from the Barca match as they enter a run of three Serie A games in seven days - Sassuolo followed by home clashes with Fiorentina on Wednesday and Torino on Saturday.

"We have to analyse the game because we played a great first half but conceded a naive goal in the second half," he said.

"We had to resume in the second half as we did in the first. We have to draw lessons from that match. With our technical qualities, and remaining in the game, we can play against these teams and beat them.

"We are growing physically and (on Sunday) we will open a cycle of three important matches for the championship."

Giorgio Chiellini and Mario Mandzukic return to the Juve squad following injuries, while Allegri confirmed Blaise Matuidi and Miralem Pjanic will both play, saying the midfielders "need game-time to get to know each other better".

Sami Khedira and Claudio Marchisio remain sidelined with knee problems, though Allegri said of the latter: "Marchisio's road to recovery is coming along well. He'll undergo further tests next week."

Cristian Bucchi has not yet tasted Serie A victory as Sassuolo coach, having collected just one point from his three games at the helm so far. The team head into the weekend in the bottom three.

The 40-year-old was encouraged by his side's performance in last weekend's 2-1 loss at Atalanta, however, and is relishing his first top-flight duel with Juve.

"There is a great emotion," he said at his pre-match press conference. "I think facing Juventus must also be a great satisfaction. It is the team that has won the last six championships and reached the Champions League final twice in the last three years, so I think it is one of the strongest in the world.

"It is a model for many aspects - organisationally, and the winning mindset. It is a stimulus for us and it is an opportunity to carry on what we started in Bergamo - a new path."

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