Max Allegri refused to be drawn on Leonardo Bonucci ahead of Juve’s match against Lazio: ‘I don’t like soap operas’. The Bianconeri face a Lazio side who are starting to find their feet this season, but the focus of the pre-match press conference questions was the issue of Bonucci taking legal action against the club. The former Juventus defender alleged that he was not told he would be forced to leave the club this summer, hinting that there was an ongoing issue between him and Allegri.
Speaking ahead of the game, Allegri refused to be drawn into a war of words with his former centre-back, focusing his attention on the tomorrow’s match:
How is the team?
“The team trained well. Those who remained have worked well and the others are in good condition. There’s a desire to do well against Lazio who played a good game in Naples. It’s difficult to define the line-up because there are players who deserve to play but have to sit out. On the other hand it’s good because it means that everyone wants to do well.
Do you have something to say to Bonucci?
“I don’t think there is anything more to say. I have nothing to add, I can only wish him good luck.”
On a mental level, how are you after what happened to Pogba?
“Off the pitch we’re quite calm and we’re calm. I’m sorry about the Pogba situation, but I can’t add anything and it’s right to wait until the end of the proceedings”.
You have a different version of events from Bonucci….
“Soap operas are on channel 5 and I’m not very fond of them. I wish Leonardo good luck, he is now playing in a team that will play in the Champions League, it will also be important on a motivational level.”
What changes with Pogba’s absence?
“Right now it’s difficult to say. He has been suspended, let’s wait for the end of the proceedings and then the sentence and I will be able to say what changes at Juve. At the moment we know he won’t be there against Lazio and I don’t think even against Sassuolo and then we’ll see. We’re concentrating on the players we have and we have a lot of them. Tomorrow is important for us, it’s a direct clash and so we have to face it in the best possible way.
The player most similar to Pogba? Is tomorrow a crossroads?
“We must not make the mistake with Pogba’s characteristics and make the most of the players’ characteristics. For us Lazio is a direct competitor to finish in the top 4, which is our goal. To return to the Champions League we need to finish in the top 4. The championship is long, we have to prepare match after match. There will be difficult moments and less difficult will be the last championship game where we have to be in the top 4.”
On a human level more saddened by what happened with Pogba or Bonucci?
“They are different. For Pogba I’m sorry for the situation that has arisen, we talked a lot about Leonardo and I think it’s more important to look ahead and at tomorrow’s game. Life goes on and you just have to think about what tomorrow will be.”
Did you expect a different situation with Pogba?
“He came back a man who unfortunately had this injury. I’m sorry about this situation. He put all his effort into doing well but unfortunately things didn’t go well at the moment. Pogba is a different player from all the others”.
How is Chiesa? Has Locatelli returned well from the national team?
“There are many possibilities that he could start from the beginning. Locatelli did very well in the national team, he needed it.”
Can McKennie now also be used as a centre half?
“He can play as a full-back and wide. Tomorrow he is likely to start. I have evaluations on him and Danilo, who only returned yesterday. But McKennie is becoming reliable, I’m happy with the way he has come back and the way he has trained. It’s important that he keeps it up mentally for the whole year.”
Can Cambiaso play on the right tomorrow? Did it bother you to be called a liar?
“My friends always call me Pinocchio, that’s the least of it. Andrea can also play on the right. It’s not for tomorrow that I have problems with the formation but for how the group trains. I found it difficult because the four forwards are well, leaving out Milik and Kean is difficult. Also in defence, leaving out Rugani who is a reliable player… Let’s say there is a good harmony. You have to get results and play as a team. This is an important year, difficult to finish in the top 4.”
Does this Juve team have less experience?
“This will be told by the results. Bonucci and Pogba are experienced players, the same goes for Di Maria, Paredes, Cuadrado. We have a young group with desire. Tomorrow we have a good test and we’ll see if we improve on the Empoli performance. We face a very organised Lazio side, with quality, fast players. It’s a complicated and difficult direct clash.
Do you fear any repercussions within the group?
“Leonardo did not create an internal war. A decision was made as it happens so many times. Ours is a very responsible team that puts everything on the field”.
Lazio’s strengths that Juventus must fear?
“Lazio have a lot of technique, fast players who play in tight areas. They are very skilful on the counter. In direct head to head the details make the difference and we have to be good at getting the episode on our side.”
On the penalty takers?
“You caught me off guard. After Vlahovic there is Milik. We have good penalty takers Kean also Danilo, McKennie in his own way. By the way McKennie if he plays will make his 100th appearance and that’s a nice goal for him.”