Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci has admitted that he would like to avoid Tottenham Hotspur in the last 16 of the Champions League.
The Bianconeri are the only Italian team already qualified for the knockout stages of the tournament, but the other three - Inter, Napoli and Atalanta - still have a chance of joining them in the next phase.
Bonucci assures his side are now focused on Serie A but, if he had to choose an opponent in the Round of 16, is keen to avoid the 2018-19 finalists, now coached by Jose Mourinho.
“If I need to pick a team to avoid, I would say Tottenham,” he told Sport Mediaset.
“Mourinho may give them something extra in certain games. A lot can change between now and the last 16, but with this change Tottenham are back on track, with all due respect to Pochettino.
After their 1-0 win against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, Juve claimed the top spot in Group D with four victories and one draw.
“It may have seemed easy, but it never is,” the defender added. “We have had a good run and achieved our first goal. Now, we only think about the League.”
In Serie A there’s new life to the title challenge, where Antonio Conte’s Inter are keeping up with the Old Lady.
Inter are second behind Juve, with only one point separating the two sides after 13 games.
“We knew they would return, both in the League and in the Champions League, but we’re focused on our own work and we don’t look at the others.”
Cristiano Ronaldo has struggled with a knee injury in recent weeks and caused some concern when he reacted angrily to being substituted against Milan, but Bonucci insists it is all water under the bridge now.
“We talked, and the most important thing is to have someone ready when the others aren’t in top physical condition.
“During these last few games, we've had more than one player show that they are in peak condition.
“Ronaldo is part of a group, to be competitive raises the level in training and for the team on Sundays. The objective is to be competitive from March onwards.”
The 32-year-old has a new defensive partner this season, with Matthijs de Ligt covering for the injured Giorgio Chiellini.
The Dutch starlet had a tough start to life at Allianz Stadium, but he seems to have finally found his feet in black and white.
“You can see the development and quality of a great player like him. He’s humble and will become one of the best.”
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