Blaise Matuidi genuinely believed Juventus would win the Champions League this season, while the Cagliari racism incident was “the worst moment of my career.”
The France international sat down for a lengthy interview with L’Equipe and outlined some of the highs and lows of the campaign at Juventus.
“It was a fairly satisfying season,” said Matuidi. “I played almost every game and at a club like Juve, that means a lot. We retained the Serie A title too.
“Our Champions League exit was the darkest moment of the year. We can see now that we are paying the consequences for that, seeing as our Coach (Max Allegri) has left the club.
“We had the capabilities to do better, but were unable to raise our game at the right moment. Having said that, we did show character, for example with the comeback to eliminate Atletico Madrid in the Round of 16. That second leg tie was the perfect match and, in that moment, I really thought we would go all the way and win it.
“Unfortunately, we were missing important players against Ajax, such as our captain Giorgio Chiellini. Cristiano Ronaldo is extraordinary, he’s won it all and they say when you’ve achieved that, you lose motivation, but not him! He always wants to climb higher and win even in training.
“It was different with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as Cristiano is more of a hard worker and pumps you up even after a game. That’s what really stunned me the most. The day after, when everyone is trying to just rest and recuperate, he is already at the training session doing exercises for his abs. Just… wow.”
The other worst moment of the season for Matuidi came in Cagliari, when he and teammate Moise Kean were subjected to racist abuse from the crowd.
“Never mind the season, that was one of the worst moments of my career. It had already happened the year before, in the same stadium. This time my first reaction was to stop the game.
“I didn’t walk off because there was a match to be played, there are my teammates too and I can’t just think about myself. Afterwards, I tell myself that if I do walk off, I am giving these people power and I don’t want that. I have to point them out and then they must be punished.
“There were around 20,000 fans in that stadium, they aren’t all like that. Why should the majority be penalised because of a few idiots?”
There have been reports Matuidi could be heading to the Middle East after Juventus, but the World Cup winner is in no rush.
“I still have a year on my contract and an option for another season. I am happy at Juventus. I don’t have regrets, as I love a challenge and am today the happiest man in the world.
“I could’ve stayed at Paris Saint-Germain if I wanted to, nobody put a gun to my head asking me to leave, but at the moment when you don’t feel the necessary confidence in you anymore, it’s best to move on.”