Leonardo Bonucci admitted an attention-grabbing exchange between Inter boss Antonio Conte and Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli was “bad” but stressed it was in keeping with the heat of battle.
Conte and Agnelli clashed on Tuesday during the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final in Turin, a match that ended 0-0 to see Juve prevail 2-1 on aggregate.
Footage appeared to show the ex-Juve boss making a gesture that was reportedly towards Agnelli, who could be heard on a pitch-side microphone making comments aimed at the touchline following the end of the game.
Speaking to RAI after the draw, Conte said Juventus should “tell the truth” over what unfolded, adding: “They should be more polite in my opinion. They need more sportsmanship and respect for those who work.”
Juventus defender Bonucci understands that while those involved in top-level football must set an example to the audience watching on, it is not always easy to stay calm in such high-pressure situations.
“There is little to add, the images speak clearly,” Bonucci said in an interview with Sky Sport Italia. “What happened is bad, but it is not up to me to judge why it happened or what had to be done.
“Obviously we must always be an example, but sometimes it is difficult. When you step onto the pitch the environmental situation does not make you think.
“In some moments, adrenaline and tension make you become something different than what you would like to be, episodes like this happen, amplified by the empty stage with the sideline microphones that can transmit a sneeze.”
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Juve had won the first leg 2-1 at San Siro, having previously lost 2-0 at the same venue in January when going up against the Nerazzurri in Serie A action.
Bonucci points to that league defeat as a turning point for the reigning champions of Italy, as Juventus have not lost in seven games since that setback. Their reward for progressing in the Coppa Italia is a final showdown with Atalanta, which takes place in May.
“It represents a small step towards another goal, which is to bring home the trophy. It will be difficult, because Atalanta have been one of the best Italian teams for several years, they have also shown it in Europe,” the defender said.
“It will be an unprecedented and complicated final, but there will be the desire to take home the cup.
“For the group it is yet another confirmation that after the match in Milan with Inter something different has taken place in us as a team and as individuals and this bodes well.”
Juve switch their focus back to Serie A this weekend, though Bonucci is an injury doubt for Saturday’s game away at Napoli due to a muscle issue.
Midfielder Arthur also appears set to miss the fixture after the club revealed he has “the presence of a post-traumatic calcification at the level of the interosseous membrane” in his right leg. The Brazilian will be monitored on a daily basis, though it is unclear when he will return to action.
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