Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci has been dropped for Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Porto as punishment for an argument with coach Massimiliano Allegri towards the end of Friday’s 4-1 win over Palermo.
Bonucci and Allegri were involved in a heated exchange towards the end of the Serie A match and the Italy international raced off the field as soon as the final whistle sounded without acknowledging his coach or Juve’s fans.
Allegri announced at the news conference ahead of his side’s round-of-16 first-leg clash in Portugal that he will not be accepting Bonucci’s behaviour and, as a consequence, confirmed he will not play a part at the Estadio Dragao on Wednesday night.
“Bonucci’s going to be in the stands tomorrow,” Allegri said. “After the game [on Friday] I played it down because nothing really happened, but out of respect for the fans and the club, it is only right that I make this decision, and that is that.
“This is a decision taken in agreement with the club. It was a scene which was not in keeping with my style and it is not on, particularly because it was seen by millions of children.”
Allegri revealed that he is also going to discipline himself for the unsavoury incident which was caught by the television cameras at the Juventus Stadium.
“I have decided I will make a charitable donation next week, and I will reveal who it will go to in the days to come,” Allegri said. “I think it’s the right thing to do and shows my responsibility. Leo has understood my decision.”
In the absence of Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli will be partnered by Giorgio Chiellini at the heart of Juve defence for arguably their most important game of the season so far.
“Barzagli and Chiellini are in good shape,” Allegri said. “We’ve brought everybody here as it’s an important time of the season, even for the four players who will sit in the stands tomorrow night.
“It’s a very intense moment and we have got to be united. There will be players who play tomorrow, players who play on Saturday and other players who play next Tuesday — I have the luxury to do this as I have a large squad.”
Allegri took a lighter approach to punishing Stephan Lichtsteiner and Paulo Dybala when they both reacted angrily to some of his decisions earlier this season, and it appears he has now decided the time has come to take a stand with Bonucci.
“It happened and that was it,” Allegri said. “There is always somebody who has to pay, so let’s just say he’s been unlucky.
“There’s no tension — or rather there’s the right tension heading towards the end of a season where we want to win the league and go all the way in the Champions League and Coppa Italia. There are moments when you have to make a decision to try not to let things get out of hand, but I don’t think it’s serious.
“I told him my decision this morning. I can’t see any problem. The issue is over — it’s not even an issue anyway, it’s just something that has happened and we need to think about Europe and be focused on tomorrow’s game.
“We have 180 important minutes which are not going to be easy, against the hardest team we could have drawn of those who finished second in their group, with a great coach and one who concede few goals. We have this important game tomorrow and we need to win it — all together.”
Captain Gianluigi Buffon says the decision to leave Bonucci out is the right one, and one which sends the right signal to the Juve squad.
“Not accepting the coach’s decisions well and having the wrong attitude is not something which leads to you having a positive frame of mind,” Buffon said. “These are things that need to be kept in consideration when you are at a big club like Juventus.
“We’ve seen a few incidents, with Dybala and Bonucci arguing with the coach, but these things are part of the game. It is our great desire to win which stirs up the emotions this way.”
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