Following their 1-1 draw in Madrid and subsequent qualification for the Champions League final, Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini was brutally honest when asked about playing in Europe's marquee game each season. He called it the most important match of career — a heartfelt statement from a man who is full of them.
But now there's just one problem now.
Chiellini won't be taking part in the biggest match of his career come Saturday night. At least, not until the next biggest match of his career — whenever that may be down the road.
Juventus' vice captain and star central defender won't be stepping onto the Olympiastadion field on Saturday against Barcelona to try and stop the famed MSN trident of Leo Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. Instead, Chiellini will be up in the stands watching his teammates compete in Juve's first Champions League final since the 2002-03 season thanks to a left calf injury he picked up during Juve's training session on Wednesday afternoon.
Here's the diagnosis and official word regarding Chiellini from Juventus' official website:
As the clock ticks down to Saturday's showpiece event at the Olympiastadion, Massimiliano Allegri's men focused on tactics at Juventus Center.
Missing out on the sitting was Giorgio Chiellini, who underwent tests after reporting discomfort in his calf on Wednesday. The scan revealed a first grade tear of the soleus muscle in his left leg, meaning the defender will miss Saturday's final with Barcelona.
It's a crushing blow to Chiellini — regardless of his roller coast-like form this season — who was going to be one of Juventus' most important players against Barcelona simply because of what they offer in the attack. He's overcome slips on the turf to still prove to be an incredibly crucial determinant in Juve's success. Yet, just two days before the final, he's been ruled out due to an injury nobody expected to happen.
71.1% - Juventus have won 71.1% of their seasonal games with Giorgio Chiellini (all comps), only 45.5% without him. Injured.— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) June 4, 2015
This means Andrea Barzagli, who has had his own injury issues as of late, will almost certainly step into the center of defense alongside Leonardo Bonucci in Max Allegri's 4-3-1-2 formation. (Sorry to disappoint all the Angelo Ogbonna fans out there, but it ain't gonna happen. Not in the Champions League final.) Barzagli missed the Serie A final against Hellas Verona last weekend, but returned to training on the same day that Chiellini limped off injured.
What timing, man, what timing.