Max Allegri confirmed Leonardo Bonucci is dropped for disciplinary reasons against Porto. “Out of respect for Juventus, the team and the fans.”
The first leg in the Champions League Round of 16 kicks off at the Estadio do Dragao on Wednesday at 19.45 GMT.
“Porto are a team and club accustomed to being in the Champions League. They are unbeaten since September, have conceded only 14 goals all season,” said the Coach in his Press conference.
“They beat Bayern Munich and Chelsea at home in the last three years, have an excellent record and so this is a difficult test. We know the problems we’ll run into.
“The difference between playing at home and away is that we need to score an away goal.”
The elephant in the room was Bonucci’s situation, as after the defender and Coach exchanged insults in the final minutes of Friday’s 4-1 win over Palermo, it was reported he will be left in the stands.
During the pitch inspection at the Estadio do Dragao this evening, Bonucci sat on the bench with headphones on while Allegri and the squad were on the field.
“Tomorrow Bonucci will be in the stands. That doesn’t mean it has to be made into a big deal. Out of respect for the club, the team and the fans, this was the right decision.
“The case is closed. Leo understood the situation, as an intelligent lad and important player for Juventus. It’s a moment that will be useful for the future.
“I also had a reaction that was not right and not suited to the way I see football, above all with fans and children watching, so tomorrow I will give a charity donation."
Allegri was asked why Bonucci was punished, but not Paulo Dybala or Stephan Lichtsteiner for their irritated reactions to leaving the field this season?
“Things happened and that’s it. If Bonucci was the first to react like that, he might not have paid such a heavy price. It’s the rule of life – someone has to pay.
“I will give you four starting players: Cuadrado, Higuain, Dybala and Mandzukic. Will Miralem Pjanic play? You are asking that so you know if it's the five stars, aren't you? Clever. Well, Pjanic will play.
"Barzagli and Chiellini are fine. It’s an important moment of the season, four will go in the stands, but we have Empoli and Napoli coming up, so it’s crucial all the players stay together as a group during this period.
“There are tensions and a bit of chaos during a season, that’s part of the sport, but we don’t need to make things worse than they are. It is all sorted out, we move forward.
“We have to keep the focus on the most important thing, which is the game. These are 180 very difficult minutes, Porto are the worst side we could’ve drawn in the Round of 16 and we do not want to be distracted by a situation that does not exist.
“Nothing else happened. I spoke to Leo, he understood and we move forward."
Does Allegri believe that Porto will play with one or two strikers tomorrow?
“When you play in the Round of 16 of the Champions League, there are no favourites, especially between Juventus and Porto. I don’t know how they will play, but they will be very solid and less ‘Portuguese’ than we’ve seen them in recent years.
“They never lose their defensive solidity, even on home turf. Naturally they’ll be a bit more forward-thinking tomorrow to make the most of home advantage and open up the tie, but they’ll remain a very balanced side.”
Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £11.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://subscribe.premiersports.tv/