Sergio Aguero vs Gonzalo Higuain: Argentina team-mates to face off
Manchester City vs Chelsea is live on Sky Sports on Super Sunday
By Nick Wright
Last Updated: 10/02/19 2:00pm
Argentina team-mates Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain will go head to head when Manchester City face Chelsea on Super Sunday.
Higuain joined his international team-mate in the Premier League when he completed his loan move to Stamford Bridge from AC Milan during the January transfer window.
The 31-year-old has wasted little time in making an impact, scoring twice in Chelsea's 5-0 win over Huddersfield, while Aguero is in fine form himself having scored a hat-trick in Manchester City's 3-1 win over Arsenal.
Despite numerous similarities between them, however, the pair are perceived very differently in England. Aguero, on the one hand, is revered as one of the world's deadliest strikers. Higuain, on the other, is not viewed so favourably. His arrival at Stamford Bridge prompted little fanfare.
The contrasting perceptions are all the more curious when you consider that, as well as being just six months apart in age, Aguero and Higuain have startlingly similar scoring records.
Since their arrivals in Europe during the 2006/07 season, from Independiente to Atletico Madrid and from River Plate to Real Madrid, Aguero and Higuain have scored 231 and 226 league goals respectively.
Aguero's total is slightly higher than his counterpart's, but interestingly, Higuain's minutes per goal rate of 121.1 is in fact superior. That's partly because while Aguero has always been a first-choice starter for his clubs, Higuain was often used from the bench at Real Madrid, but it also reflects superior efficiency in front of goal.
Despite that, they are viewed differently by many back in Argentina, too. Aguero has scored 39 goals in 89 international appearances while Higuain has 31 in 75, giving them similar strike rates, but, according to Argentinian football journalist Marcela Mora y Araujo, there are numerous factors which have worked against Higuain.
"Not as many people hate Aguero as much as some people hate Higuain," she tells Sky Sports. "This could be because he is identified with his boyhood club River Plate, a much bigger club than Aguero's Independiente, and people who hate River maybe associate him with the club.
"Pipita [Higuain] has also become the subject of many memes which go viral, because he has missed crucial chances in important competitions. He is perhaps maybe more 'debated' as a character. Aguero is popular without being adored, and less controversial."
Aguero and Higuain have rarely been used as a pair at international level - their fight for the No 9 shirt has been a long-running theme of Argentinian football - but what they do have in common is that they have both played in the shadow of Lionel Messi.
The Barcelona star has always been Argentina's main man, but at club level both Aguero and Higuain now enjoy that status themselves. Who will come out on top at the Etihad Stadium on Super Sunday? The duel could decide whether new perceptions are shaped - or old ones are reinforced.
Watch Manchester City vs Chelsea live on Sky Sports Premier League HD from 3.30pm on Sunday