Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata is relishing a bruising duel with his former Juventus team-mate Leonardo Bonucci when the two sides face each other in the Champions League on Wednesday. The Juventus defender promised to give his former team-mate a good beating when they face each other in the Champions League.
Juve travel to the Wanda Metropolitano for the first leg of their last-16 tie knowing they have been given one of the toughest draws available. A familiar face in Morata is expected to lead the line for Atletico, with the Spain international previously playing two years in Turin before returning to Real Madrid in 2016. Centre-back Bonucci jokingly said in an interview on Tuesday that he was going to give his friend Morata “a good beating” on the pitch. Morata expects such treatment but claims it will only fire him up even more.
“I wish he’d beat me up,” Morata told AS. “If I don’t get kicked, it would be a good thing for them. First, I have to be on the pitch, then they can give me everything they want. If they give me a ‘good beating’, it would be a good sign.” Morata is yet to score for Atletico since re-joining his childhood club from Chelsea, having endured a difficult time in the Premier League. He looks back fondly on his spell at Juve and still roots for them, but he would find it difficult to not celebrate if his first professional goal with Atletico came against the Old Lady.
“My first goal with Atletico, I can’t not celebrate it,” he said. “There [away to Juventus], maybe, out of respect I do not [celebrate], but my first goal in the Atletico shirt will mean a lot to me. I could not stand and ask for forgiveness. It’s true that there I would respect the fans of Juventus, who are my team in Italy, and I want them to win always, except when they play against us. I think that the people of Juventus would understand if I celebrated a goal here in Madrid, and those of Atletico would understand if I did not do it there [in Turin].”
The tie will also see Morata reunited with another former team-mate, Cristiano Ronaldo, although their relationship was seemingly a little more businesslike than the 26-year-old’s connection with Bonucci. “I never had any problems with him [Ronaldo],” Morata added. “Maybe we understand some things differently, but I did not have any problems with him. I hope it’s not his day. Sometimes I talked to him about things outside of football, like family. He’s a good person and there’s no problem.”