Argentina currently boasts what is arguably the most impressive forward line in world football. Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi are, without doubt, two of the finest attackers in the game. The Albicelestes coach Alejandro Sabella can also call on the likes of Rodrigo Palacio, Erik Lamela, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez to complete his armada.
It is the last two names that we will compare here. Tevez, in particular, is an interesting case as he has been ignored by Sabella and looks unlikely to feature in Argentina's World Cup squad, despite being an immensely popular figure back in his homeland, and regarded by many as one of the elite attacking players in the game. Higuain, meanwhile, is a regular starter, and will certainly play in Brazil 2014, barring injury.
So who is the better player?
To answer that subjective question, we can look at statistical evidence, such as their goalscoring records, while also discussing other aspects of their respective games.
The Numbers (Career)
|NT Matches||NT Goals||Strike Rate||Club Matches||Club Goals||Strike Rate|
So a superficial look at the stats reveals that Higuain is the more reliable striker, in terms of goals per game, at both club and national team level.
But what about other, less tangible factors, that we can use to measure their value as footballers?
Judged on pure ability, there is no doubt the Juventus man has the edge on his Napoli counterpart. Tevez is the superior dribbler, has the capacity to create chances out of nothing and, in general, scores spectacular goals more frequently. He is endowed with a 'spark' that Higuain does not possess and can turn the momentum of a match with a piece of individual brilliance. The former River Plate star is still an extremely gifted footballer, but Tevez possesses a rarer form of talent.
In this category, Higuain has the edge. It is hard to criticize Tevez's attitude on the pitch; he is renowned for his hard running, determination and fighting qualities. He is, however, less disciplined tactically than "Pipita," who willingly takes on positional instructions from his managers and adheres admirably to his brief. "Carlitos" is more likely to drift out of position and break the tactical pattern. He is also more prone to bookings.
Off the pitch, Tevez's disciplinary problems are well documented, while Higuain, despite the odd boating mishap, has kept his nose clean.
Sabella has regularly demonstrated that his preferred offensive trident for Argentina consists of Higuain, Messi and Aguero. Tevez does not even make the squad.
The reasons for this have already been alluded to above. Despite his superior natural gifts, the former Boca idol has a tendency to disturb the equilibrium of the Albiceleste attacking unit. While Higuain can be relied on to hold a position on the right, or in the center, and combine with his teammates, Tevez is less predictable in his movements, and can therefore end up occupying the same spaces as Messi and Aguero.
Who is the better player? Tevez is unquestionably more skillful, and can win matches on his own, but the statistics indicate his overall impact is less decisive. Higuain's all-around game and consistency make him the more valuable player, certainly as far as Argentina is concerned.