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

By Sports Desk May 02, 2021

Andrea Pirlo acknowledged his Juventus players are mentally drained but urged them to secure Champions League football next season "at all costs".

A late double from Cristiano Ronaldo helped Juve fight back from a goal down to beat Udinese 2-1 on Sunday as they climbed up to third place in Serie A.

The Bianconeri are level on 69 points with Atalanta in second and Milan in fourth, and two points above fifth-placed Napoli, with four games remaining.

Juve's performance against Udinese lacked intensity but the win eased some of the pressure on Pirlo's position as head coach as he explained the reason behind their struggles.

Pirlo told Sky Italia: "When you are not used to fighting for the Champions League, but you have always been used to the Scudetto, something changes in everyone's mind.

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

"It will be tiring, but we must get there. The team knows what it wants, it's united to reach the Champions League goal. That's the most important thing."

No team has won more points from behind than Juventus in Serie A this term (17, alongside Sassuolo) and Pirlo praised his players for their capacity to fight back on the day Inter secured the Serie A title.

"This victory came with difficulty, with pride," he added. "It was also important in view of the results of the afternoon to win. We had complicated our lives for the umpteenth time by giving away a goal with big carelessness.

"But there was a great desire to bring home the result, right up to the end, so this is 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 straight league titles comes to an end and another one 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 the top-five European leagues.

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

"Ronaldo is a champion, he always wants to improve," Pirlo said of the Portugal forward.

"He gave the team positivity and made good plays. Today we clung to him, but the whole team did well reacting in the best way to get to three big points."

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