One of the most intriguing matchups, which many soccer fans were looking forward to watching as it related to the August FIFA match date, was the battle in Rome to be played between Argentina and Italy. In a game that lived up to it’s billing and hype, Argentina won 2-1 thanks to a goal and assist from Napoli forward Gonzalo Higuain.
Coming into Wednesday’s game, Argentina would be without the services of Lionel Messi who was sent back to Barcelona because of a thigh injury. One of the things that has plagued or been a question for Barcelona and Argentina is how well can they play without a healthy Messi on the field for each respective team. If today’s game was an exam, then Argentina aced this exam as ‘Pipita’ Higuain served as an exceptional target man.
Higuain helped make Messi’s absence one that would not be missed in this game as he showed great understanding and interplay with forwards Rodrigo Palacio and Erik Lamela early on in the game. Argentina’s first goal came courtesy of a Lamela pass which was hit with precision by Higuain into the back of the net. And while Argentina did not add to their 1-0 lead before the half, it wasn’t for a lack of trying as Higuain continued to spearhead the attack as he either served as the target man which Palacio, Lamela and or others played off to get off shots or Higuain himself taking a shot on goal.
Argentina’s second goal came courtesy of a Higuain pass which Ever Banega would hit from the top of the box to make it 2-0. Higuain would have another chance to score but he muffed his effort. All in all, this performance by Higuain served as a wonderful boost of confidence to Argentina and its coach Alejandro Sabella that his team was able to rise up and play well despite the absence of Messi. Sabella will be further encouraged that he can count on a player like Higauin who is an important cog in his team since he took over took over and helped his attack function despite the absence of Messi.
Gonzalo Higuain has been a player that many Argentinians have at times been critical of and or fully gotten behind. This came to light after the World Cup Qualifier against Colombia, which saw him sent off. As a result, he will miss the next two qualifying games as a result. But the short sightedness of these same fans has made them miss the fact that since Sabella took over as coach of Argentina, Higuain has formed a wonderful attacking partnership with Messi, to the point where they have at times played give and go attacks which seemed like they could do what they did blindfolded.
In friendly games like the one Argentina played today, the result can be a secondary discussion point. With the performance turned in by ‘Pipita’ Higuain, he demonstrated that Argentina have another attacking point man which his teammates can play off of, especially in the absence of Messi.