Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Higuain hopeful of Napoli return despite hand surgery


tiamin rice

Argentina ace Gonzalo Higuain could play Friday’s Serie A clash against Napoli despite a broken finger, Juventus general manager Giuseppe Marotta has insisted.

Champions Juventus, four points behind Napoli, travel to the San Paolo Stadium on Friday before two other crunch ties — a Champions League trip to Olympiakos on December 5 and a Serie A clash against second-place Inter Milan on December 9.

“Today surgery can produce real miracles. Gonzalo has 50 percent chance of playing at the San Paolo,” Marotta told Sky Sports Italia on the sidelines of Monday night’s Grand Gala del Calcio awards organised by the Italian Footballer’s Association.

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The 29-year-old Higuain, who left Napoli in 2016 for Turin in a 90 million euro deal, and has scored 10 goals this season, underwent surgery on a fractured bone in his left hand earlier on Monday.

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“It’s an important game against Napoli, but I don’t think it’ll be decisive for the end of the season. Of course we’ll try to honour it in the best way,” said Marotta.

“Generally this game comes when Juventus aren’t at the top, but we’re aware how hard the match is and while we respect them, we’re not afraid.”

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Despite two lost Champions League finals in the past three years — 2015 and 2017 — Marotta said that they were not focusing more on Europe this season.

“We know that the charm of the Champions League is unique. But let’s not forget that we play in Italy and we want to honour the championship in the best way, winning what is just as beautiful a cup for the seventh time (in a row).”

Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic added: “Higuain is very motivated, we will see if he will be available against Napoli. We hope so, but even if he’s not we will do our best to get to the three points.

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“It will be a match between two beautiful teams, who will battle to the end for the Scudetto.

“We have many champions and, although we have shown some struggles, we want to win the Scudetto which is the number one goal, hoping to be able to continue the Champions League.”

Juventus are second in the Group D behind already qualified Barcelona and a point ahead of third-place Sporting Lisbon, needing to secure their Champions League qualification at Olympiakos.

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