Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci has been left out of Juventus’ team for their first leg Champions League round of 16 match against Porto following a verbal altercation with coach Massimiliano Allegri.
Bonucci and Allegri got into it on the touchline in the final minutes of the 4-1 win over Palermo on Friday, with Allegri caught on camera yelling obscenities at his defender: “Shut up, (expletive)! (Expletive) off!”
Bonucci replied in kind, telling his coach to “go to hell”, before running off the pitch at the end of the match without acknowledging the home fans.
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Allegri played the incident down after the match, saying: “These things happen. I had three players who needed to be substituted because they had cramp. There was a misunderstanding, but it’s no issue, these things happen.”
In a press conference ahead of Juve’s clash with Porto though, Allegri announced that Bonucci will be absent from the Juventus team on Wednesday as a disciplinary measure.
The Juve manager also announced that he would fine himself for his response to Bonucci, donating the money to charity. “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 has already bumped heads with both Paulo Dybala and Stephan Lichtsteiner this year in one-off incidents, but following the flare-ups, both players have returned to the squad without further disruption to the team.
With Bonucci suspended, Juventus are without their best defender, but there are plenty of options in the team to cover for his absence. Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli are both healthy and will be expected to start alongside each other in the heart of defense. Former Bayern Munich defender Medhi Benatia and young Italian star Daniele Rugani are also in reserve, ready to step in if necessary.
Bonucci’s organizational skills and passing ability will be a big miss for Juventus, but they’re probably the deepest squad in Europe at the center-back position. While the 29-year-old Italian’s presence will undoubtedly be felt, it’s far from a devastating blow for the Bianconeri.
It’s a bold move from Allegri to suspend Bonucci ahead of this crucial tie, but clearly, he’s not afraid to make a strong statement as Juventus head into the most important period of their season.