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Juventus' Higuain brace in Monaco amid big game scrutiny

Gonzalo Higuain's ex-River Plate coach Daniel Passarella offered some advice on overcoming the pressure in big matches, and it may have paid off.

Juventus' Gonzalo Higuain celebrates scoring their first goal
Jean-Paul Pelissier REUTERS

Argentina great Daniel Passarella urged Gonzalo Higuain to ignore the pressure of his €90million price tag ahead of the huge Champions League semi-final first leg against Monaco. And the ex-Real Madrid man seemed to have taken note after scoring the opening goal in the Stade Louis II and then following it up with another on the hour mark.

Transfer fee not everything for Higuain

Higuain became the world's most expensive striker when he signed for Juventus from Napoli last July in a Serie A-record deal. The 29-year-old has scored 29 goals in all competitions this season to propel Juve towards an historic treble, although his form in the Champions League has come under scrutiny.

Before Wednesday night's opener against Monaco Higuain had not scored in the competition since the group stage and even with his brace has still only managed four goals in 25 appearances in the knockout phase in his career.

Gonzalo Higuain opens the scoring for Juventus in the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg match against AS Monaco.

Being the difference on the big occasion

His ability to perform on the big occasion has been questioned throughout his career, especially since key misses for Argentina in the finals of the World Cup and Copa America, but Passarella backed him to perform in this year's semi-final against Monaco.

"Inevitably it depends heavily on others," Passarella, who coached Higuain at River Plate, told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "In a defensive game like at Camp Nou [in the quarter-final second leg] there is little you can do.

"Higuain's fee should not weigh on him," says Prandelli.

"Gonzalo has only been bad in the 2014 World Cup and then in the Copa America. It was as though his stars were out of alignment. I remember when everyone was impressed by the 25 billion lire paid [by Juventus in 1990] for Roberto Baggio. Of course, 90 million euro is a lot, but all records are made to be broken.

"Figures are soaring, football is changing and soon there will be a team that pays more for a striker than Pipita. His fee should not weigh on him."