5 players who will decide the outcome when Juventus take on Tottenham Hotspur
Juventus vs Tottenham is one of the most intriguing last-16 meetings and here are the 5 players who could prove decisive...
The last-16 tie between Juventus and Tottenham is could be one of the most hotly contested of the round. Tottenham's 1-0 derby win over Arsenal has set them up nicely for tomorrow's first-leg and it represents a huge opportunity for Mauricio Pochettino to prove his exciting side can thrive at this level; his side will be eager to prove that their famous triumph in the group stages over Real Madrid was no mere fluke.
Juventus are seasoned Champions League contenders and Massimiliano Allegri will be hoping that this counts for something in the games. Juventus are on a great 11-game winning streak in Serie A, and will be looking to continue this form in the battle against one of the Premier League's strongest teams.
Both are equipped with excellent firepower up front; both are extremely solid in defence. One hopes that the two sides won't cancel each other out by their similarities but the game at the Allianz Stadium will be intriguing nonetheless. This slideshow looks at 5 key players who will decide who triumphs in the first-leg match.
#5 Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus)
The Argentine receives a lot of criticism for his fitness levels and seeming lack of effort but there aren't many better natural goal scorers in Europe when Higuain is at his best. After his controversial move from Naples to Turin, he has reached the 50-goal mark in just 88 appearances, an excellent rate.
Higuain has scored 18 goals this season so far, but the Champions League is the competition he regularly struggles in. He has just 30 goals in 98 appearances, far reduced from his strike rate in league competitions. Too often, games in the knockout stages have tended to pass the striker by, as he's found himself stifled by tough defences.
He certainly won't have an easier time of it against Tottenham, whose centre defensive pairing of Belgian duo Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen have been amongst the finest partnerships in Europe in recent seasons. The two share a great understanding between them, and Pochettino is likely to add Davinson Sanchez to his back line for the away tie, going with a more concrete 3-man defence.
This will be to try and give Higuain less space to work with in the penalty box, where he finds his scoring chances, and the striker will have to work extra hard to get opportunities. Higuain turned 30 in December so his opportunities for truly performing at this level are diminishing, so this year could represent one of his best chances to win the Champions League. He's a player who only needs a chance to make his mark, so Higuain will have to be ready and alert tomorrow.