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Bonucci-Allegri rift threatens to destabilise Juventus
Published in Ahram Online on 23 - 02 - 2017

An ongoing rift between Massimiliano Allegri and Leonardo Bonucci has threatened to overshadow an excellent week for Juventus ahead of their Serie A return after Wednesday's Champions League victory over Porto.
It often appears as though nothing can stop this Juventus side, with the league leaders seven points clear after winning their last six and firmly on course for a record sixth straight Scudetto ahead of the visit of 17th-placed Empoli on Saturday.
However, tension between Allegri and defender Bonucci threatens to destabilise the reigning champions after the latter marred his 300th appearance for the club by engaging in an ugly touchline spat with the coach during the 4-1 victory over Palermo on Friday.
Bonucci was subsequently dropped from the matchday squad for the Porto game and after a very public dressing down, was forced to watch on from the executive box, conspicuously perched alone on a stool, in an Allegri power play that has the potential to disrupt the team.
"Bonucci is a professional and has to behave according to the rules," Juventus director Beppe Marotta told journalists ahead of the Porto match. "Disciplinary action will not change his ability, it's a decision made for the good of everyone.
"In football the 'we' is above the 'I' and we're disappointed for Bonucci."
Allegri looked to play down the spat on Wednesday. "During the season there are always going to be moments of tension, but we were able to ride it out," he told Mediaset Premium.
However, when asked whether the centre back would be reintegrated into the squad against Empoli, Allegri tersely replied that he had five defenders available, suggesting that Bonucci's punitive exile may be set to continue.
One player who has begun to integrate effectively into the side is Marko Pjaca, who broke the deadlock against Porto, finally delivering on his undoubted promise after a mixed start to life in Italy.
"I already saw from Saturday that the lad was changing attitude and he understood that some things are not enough in Italian football," said Allegri.
"He's changing his attitude and already has the technique, pace and talent, but he's young and we need patience with young players."
The emergence of Pjaca offers hope that Juventus can sustain their momentum but even as he continues to do things his way, Allegri must be aware that the continuing rift with Bonucci is an open wound that has the potential to destabilise his champions-elect.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)


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