Medhi Benatia has stated that he felt betrayed by former Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri in the wake of some events that put the Moroccan in the spotlight.
The 33-year-old spent three years in Turin while Allegri was in charge and came under scrutiny in a 1-0 home defeat to Napoli on April 22, 2018, in which Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly scored a late goal to keep Napoli’s title hopes alive.
Benatia was not used for the next game away to Inter Milan which Juve won 3-2 and sealed the Serie A title for a seventh consecutive time.
“I was having one of my best games for Juve, as with Giorgio Chiellini’s injury after 10 minutes, I kept the defence going practically by myself,” Benatia told Sky Sports Italia.
“I made so many important rescues to keep it at 0-0, then there was this corner in the final minutes and the referee told me he was watching in case I held anyone’s shirt.
“That’s why I tried not to touch Koulibaly, but Raul Albiol stepped in front, I didn’t see the ball and at the end lost the marking for an incredible goal.
“We lost 1-0, but in that moment, I felt we hadn’t just lost the game, but lost everything. I went home and didn’t sleep for three days after that. I didn’t talk to anyone in training.
“A couple of days later, we started preparing the game with Inter – which was going to be fundamental – and I saw Allegri wasn’t going to pick me. I’d been playing regularly, so I took it personally and thought he was punishing me for the Napoli goal.
“Fortunately, we won 3-2 at San Siro, so went on to win the Scudetto, but I still felt that he was singling me out. I thought, hadn’t he seen how well I’d played in the Napoli game before that? Napoli were dominating and we could’ve conceded four that day.
“I felt betrayed. I had played on even when injured and realised the team needed me. At times, I’d skip training and he’d play me anyway, so I really was hurt when Allegri dropped me.”
Benatia had drawn attention 11 days prior to the Napoli clash after he was adjudged to have fouled Real Madrid’s Lucas Vazquez in a Champions League quarter-final second leg tie.
Los Blancos had won the first leg 3-0 in Turin, but the Bianconeri leveled the tie 3-3 on aggregate until that moment of the foul which won Real a penalty and Cristiano Ronaldo – now at Juve, converted, to send the Spanish side through.
Benatia maintains his innocence that he did not make contact with Vazquez hence not warranting the foul and penalty.
“That was a terrible memory, because I was suspended in the first leg with Mire Pjanic and we lost 3-0, but then we watched Roma fight back to beat Barcelona and realised we could do it too,” Benatia continued.
“Gigi Buffon was incredibly motivated. We played this amazing game and at the end Cristiano Ronaldo jumped higher than Alex. Giorgio was on the midfielder, I tried to anticipate Vazquez without touching him, he was surprised to see me there and fell over.
“I didn’t foul Vazquez, if there was any contact, it was with my thigh on the way down. If you give a penalty at the last second, it has to be for a clear-cut foul.
“This sort of thing happened many times in Madrid and the Champions League, so it’s not the first time we’ve seen something strange going on.”
Benatia left Juventus in the summer of 2019 to join Qatari outfit Al-Duhail.