While Real Madrid CF fans await the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, coach Manuel Pellegrini is in no hurry to rush him back, with the impressive form of striker Gonzalo Higuaín a large reason why.
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While Real Madrid CF fans await Cristiano Ronaldo's return with anticipation, coach Manuel Pellegrini is in no hurry to rush him back, with the recent form of striker Gonzalo Higuaín a large reason why.
Higuaín in form
Ronaldo may be training with the squad, but as Manuel Pellegrini pointed out Tuesday ahead of his side's UEFA Champions League meeting with FC Zürich, "even without him we are top of the Liga; no team can depend on just one player." It is credit to Pellegrini that the side he is developing can shine even without its brightest star. Step forward Higuaín, who has played a key role in minimising the impact of Ronaldo's absence with a number of crucial goals. He has scored five times in the Liga since Ronaldo picked up his injury and most have been decisive – two in a 2-0 win against Getafe CF and the winners against both Club Atlético de Madrid and Real Racing Club Santander on Saturday, the latter strike taking Madrid top of the table.
With the Zürich game preceding Sunday's trip to FC Barcelona, Higuaín will be hoping his recent success is just the start, even if the imminent returns of Ronaldo and Ruud van Nistelrooy will bring his place in the side into question. "We want to get a good result against Zürich and then we'll think about Barcelona," said Higuaín, whose side are level on seven points with AC Milan at the top of Group C. "We must focus on the Champions League to avoid problems. I would be very happy if I play in both matches. It would be a privilege and I will try to do my best."
The 21-year-old is in this fourth season with Madrid and, though he may not have the star cachet of some of his team-mates, he has proven himself to be a prolific scorer, marking his international debut for Argentina last month with a crucial winner against Peru in FIFA World Cup qualifying. Higuaín struck 22 times in 34 Liga appearances last term, a return that would probably earn a regular starting role at most clubs. Madrid, though, are a special case. "Cristiano is a player who makes the difference and it's great to know he is back in this important week for the club," Higuaín said. "I'm a striker, but when Cristiano returns the coach will have to decide where I should play. Great players make teams play better. Cristiano is a great player and I hope that his return helps the team as much as possible."