May 8, 2021

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Pirlo urges exhausted Juventus to secure Champions League football ‘at all costs’


Andrea Pirlo admitted his Juventus players were mentally exhausted, but urged them to secure Champions League football next season “at all costs”.

A late brace from Cristiano Ronaldo helped Juve fight one goal to beat Udinese 2-1 on Sunday as they climbed to third place in Serie A.

The Bianconeri are tied with 69 points with Atalanta in second and Milan in fourth, and two points above Napoli, fifth, with four games to go.

Juve’s performance against Udinese lacked intensity, but the victory eased some of the pressure on Pirlo’s position as head coach by explaining the reason for their struggles.

Pirlo told Sky Italia: “When you’re not used to fighting for the Champions League, but you’ve always been used to the Scudetto, something changes in everyone’s mind.

“There is a bit of everything. Fatigue, mental fatigue. But now the goal has changed for a few weeks now and we need to reach Champions League qualification at all costs.

“It will be tiring, but we have to get there. The team knows what they want, they are united to achieve the Champions League goal. This is the most important thing. “

No team have gained more points from behind than Juventus in Serie A this season (17, alongside Sassuolo) and Pirlo praised his players for their ability to strike back on the day Inter won the Serie A title. AT.

“This victory came with difficulty, with pride,” he added. “It was also important given the results of the afternoon to win. We had complicated our lives for the umpteenth time by giving a goal with great recklessness.

“But there was a great desire to bring the result home, until the end, so that’s the most important thing.

“My congratulations to Inter and Antonio Conte – they had a great season and they deserved it.

“For us, a cycle of nine consecutive league titles comes to an end and another begins. We want to fight for the Scudetto again.

Ronaldo has scored 16 of his 27 goals so far this season on the road, and no player has scored more away goals in Europe’s top five leagues.

He has also scored seven goals against Udinese during his Serie A career, and it was only against Cagliari (eight) that he did better in the competition.

“Ronaldo is a champion, he always wants to improve,” Pirlo said of the Portuguese striker.

“He gave the team some positivity and made some good plays. Today we clung to him, but the whole team reacted well in the best way to reach three big points.