Juventus play Valencia tomorrow to kick off their Champions League campaign, but manager Massimiliano Allegri was first asked about Douglas Costa’s ugly reactions on Sunday that led to a four-game suspension.
“I must say that on Sunday there was an unpleasant incident which surprised everyone, not least because that’s not who he is.
“He’s apologised, he’ll pay with a four match ban and he’ll show with fair play on the pitch that this was an isolated incident. That’s always been a strong point of his, in addition to his qualities.
“Tomorrow I’ll decide whether to play him or put him on the bench, but it’ll be a purely technical choice. I’m disappointed because it wasn’t a good example for those who saw it, but he was the first to be disappointed at the end of the match.
“He had a good session in training yesterday and today it was the same. He had a momentary blackout which absolutely should not happen, but which can happen. He’ll have the chance to play in the Champions League because with the international break four games becomes a month and a half.
“It damaged us as a squad, it shocked us because he did something which was totally out of his character for him. Just look at his career, he wouldn’t hurt a fly.
“He surprised everyone, even himself. I’m very disappointed.”
The manager provided an update on his squad selection for tomorrow, with Paulo Dybala missing training yesterday.
“Paulo is fine. Among other things he had a good match on Sunday, both technically and physically. He’s growing in terms of condition, as is the whole team.
“It’ll be hard to leave anyone out tomorrow, especially after seeing training today. Two who will definitely play are Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. Then I have Juan Cuadrado, Joao Cancelo and Alex Sandro who can play at full-back, and I need to decide whether two or three of them will play.
“If Cuadrado plays at full-back and Cancelo on the left, Federico Bernardeschi can play as a forward. If Cancelo and Alex Sandro play he can play up-front, or it’ll be Douglas Costa and Cuadrado.”
Juve spent a lot of money bringing Cristiano Ronaldo to Turin hoping to win the Champions League.
“The arrival of Ronaldo has increased the self-esteem. The best player in the world has arrived, the one who has shared everything with Lionel Messi in the past few years.
“Juve have played two finals in the last four years and have been eliminated [before that] twice, once in extra-time and once in Madrid with a 93rd-minute penalty. So it’s not like Juventus find ourselves suddenly fighting for the Champions League this year.
“In recent years we’ve achieved results, grown in confidence, and it’s normal that this year we have more chance to win it. That said, we need to start by getting three points tomorrow, and the final isn’t until May.
“I believe that what Juventus have achieved and maintained means we now have to aim to be among the best four in the Champions League. I hear all this talk about Juventus being favourite, but I’d say we need to take it one step at a time.”
Speaking about tomorrow’s opponents, he added he expected a battle.
“Tomorrow we have a game that isn’t easy, because it’s not easy to play and win here. There’s a stadium that really pushes the team, when the game seems dead it just takes a foul on the wing to inflame the crowd again.
“Tomorrow is a difficult game upon which our path in the Champions League rests. If we win tomorrow the path will be easier, if we draw we’re well placed and if we get a negative result then it becomes an uphill struggle.
“Football matches have to be played on the pitch, because in August everyone can win the Champions League and the Scudetto.
“Winning everything now doesn’t exist, we need to think about winning one game. We’re thinking about getting to December 30, where we want to be in the next round of the Champions League and leading the league.
“Then there’s the break, the Supercoppa and the second half of the season, which is what counts. To make it count though, you have to do well in the first half.”
He dismissed any talk about winning the Champions League this early.
“Right now talking about certain things isn’t necessary, we’re one of the four or five favourites to win the Champions League.
“But this is such a strange competition that if a ball bounces in your favour you can go to the final, if two or three are out with flu it becomes more difficult.
“Let’s start by thinking about tomorrow’s game, then we’ll see.”