Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said Douglas Costa had a “blackout” when he spat at Federico Di Francesco and was sent off in the 2-1 win over Sassuolo on Sunday.
Costa, 28, has been banned for four matches for unsporting behaviour, but Allegri leapt to his defence and said it was an out-of-character situation and he might even pick him in his team to face Valencia on Wednesday night.
“On Sunday, Douglas Costa had a moment of blackout that should not happen, but it happens to everyone,” Allegri told a news conference in Valencia. “He will pay the price with a four-match suspension and the club won’t be appealing against it.
“It means that we’ll be without him in the league for a month and a half, so we’ve suffered as a team, whilst he is in shock at the minute because it is something very uncharacteristic of him and his usual high standards of fair play. He is very sorry, surprised and over time, he’ll have the chance to show that it was not his usual behaviour.
“If he doesn’t play [on Wednesday], it will only be a purely technical decision. He is the first person to be devastated by all this. Douglas is a person who would move out of the way for a fly.”
Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco, the father of Sassuolo midfielder Federico, has defended his son from allegations that he racially provoked the Juventus winger.
“I’m disgusted by what I’ve heard about the presumed words that Federico said, or things I’ve seen on social media about what he could have said to Douglas Costa,” he told a news conference prior to Roma’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid. “Federico, in the end, was the one who got spat at and that is a uniquely humiliating thing.
“Anybody would have reacted differently, yet Federico was a great man and I’m proud of him as his father. All I will say is that he is the only person who has not received an apology and this is absurd. I am the one saying this and it shouldn’t be me having to defend him in public because from what we saw, from the images and all the rest, I’m really disappointed.
“He’s a bit down right now because he’s gone from being the victim to being practically the guilty one and this is truly absurd. This is what social media does.”
Meanwhile, After Inter Milan got their Champions League campaign off to a winning start against Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday and Napoli took a point from their trip to Red Star Belgrade, both Roma and Juve will be flying the flag for Italian football in Spain on Wednesday night.
The Giallorossi reached the semifinals last term while Juve — after reaching two of the past four finals — have been tipped to go all the way this time around, but Allegri dismissed the notion of his side being favourites to win the Champions League after signing Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer.
“I hear people saying that we are favourites, but the truth is we are just one of four or five sides who can win it,” he said. “Our objective is to be consistently among the top four clubs in the competition, but we all know that it only takes a split-second to change the course of events, so we must be fully focused throughout.”