Wednesday September 4 2019
Bonucci: 'Armenia are always tough'

Leonardo Bonucci warned Armenia are “always tough” and the 2-2 draw effectively ruined their World Cup campaign, while revealing Henrikh Mkhitaryan memories.

The Euro 2020 qualifier kicks off on in Yerevan on Thursday at 17.00 UK time.

There is only one Italy player left in the current squad who faced Armenia in both previous Euro qualifier games in 2012-13.

“Those were difficult games. In the first leg, we were able to bring home three points in the last 10 minutes, while the 2-2 draw in Naples compromised our World Cup qualification, as that result meant we dropped out of the top seeds for the next draw,” said Bonucci in his Press conference.

“Armenia are always tough, they got an important result in Greece and that boosted their enthusiasm. We know everyone gives their all against Italy, as our visit generates a lot of attention, but we have come here to get the points.”

Armenia captain Mkhitaryan joined Roma on loan from Arsenal on transfer deadline day.

“Roma have made a great signing. Mkhitaryan is important on an international level, we’ve clashed a few times and he was the first player I marked in the Champions League for Shakhtar Donetsk. Serie A is difficult to play in, but I am sure he’ll adapt and do well for the Giallorossi.”

Giorgio Chiellini had surgery this week and will be out for around six months after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.

“We wish him all the best, he’s fired up for this challenge. We will miss his experience, charisma, leadership, talent and ability to help his teammates during difficult moments of the game. We hope he returns as soon as possible.

“We are different defenders, different people. I always try to give hunger, adrenaline and focus, Giorgio is a pillar of the Juventus and Italy squad, so in the months of his absence, I’ll try to keep things stable for when he returns!”

Bonucci was asked if the influx of overseas players is damaging to the growth of Italian talent.

“There has been an increase in foreign players, but also young Italians have taken on important roles at their clubs and some are learning with experiences abroad too. It all feeds back into the Nazionale.”

Bonucci had famously said his ex-Juventus teammate Moise Kean was partly to blame for the abuse from Cagliari fans, as he was ‘winding them up,’ but the same Sardinian ultras insulted Romelu Lukaku.

“It’s a delicate situation, certainly. We have the technology to find those who are to blame and not let them back into the stadiums. It doesn’t just happen in Italy, we’ve seen this all over Europe and it needs to be fought.

“I cannot comment on the Inter ultras statement because I haven’t read it.”

Bonucci was asked about the controversy sparked by Emre Can’s fury at being cut from the Juventus Champions League squad.

“I am happy to be here on international duty. I don’t know what happened with Emre Can, but I want to dedicate myself to the Nazionale right now, as it’s my duty to focus entirely on this great honour.”

Juventus are in the middle of a transformative experience under new Coach Maurizio Sarri.

“There is a new mentality with the Coach that we’ve seen over the first two rounds of the season. We attacked a lot, but also didn’t allow that much in defence.

“I’ve always said that over long tournaments, the strongest defence tends to win. The most important thing is realising we start defending and attacking all together with 11 players. So while the goalkeeper starts attacking moves from the back, the striker must also help out in defence.”

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