SERIE A

Cristiano Ronaldo brace helps Juventus overcome Fiorentina fear

Juventus players had to overcome the impact of a heavy defeat to Fiorentina on Sunday, according to boss Andrea Pirlo.

Cristiano Ronaldo brace helps Juventus overcome Fiorentina fear
ALESSANDRO DI MARCO EFE

Andrea Pirlo revealed Juventus were "feeling the fear" from their heavy defeat to Fiorentina before the mid-season break in the early stages of their 4-1 win over Udinese on Sunday. 

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Juve suffered a humiliating 3-0 home loss to La Viola in December – their first in the league this season – but the champions bounced back to winning ways in style at the Allianz Stadium. 

Cristiano Ronaldo scored either side of Federico Chiesa's cool finish – the 15th consecutive season the Portugal star has scored 20 goals for club and country – before Udinese's Marvin Zeegelaar and Paulo Dybala exchanged goals in the closing stages. 

The result ensured Juve avoided going three consecutive home games without a win for the first time since 2015-16, and Pirlo conceded the defeat to Fiorentina last time out was on his players' minds early on.

"It wasn't the best Juventus, as we were coming off a bad defeat to Fiorentina, so started quite timid and nervous, especially when their forwards ran towards us. We gained more confidence as it went on," Pirlo told DAZN.

"I was not satisfied with the initial approach to the game, as we were still feeling the fear of our last defeat to Fiorentina. The timing of the movements weren't right, especially on the wings.

"We knew that Udinese would try to sit back, counter and wait for our mistakes, but we did well with the preventative marking to ensure they couldn't do that."

"We need Dybala, he needs us"

Dybala's late goal was just his second in Serie A this season and came after a game in which he lost possession 21 times – seven more than any other Juve player.

Despite his wastefulness with the ball, Pirlo was pleased with the Argentina international's contribution and believes his goal was the result of the forward's improved fitness. 

"We need Dybala, he needs us," the Juve boss added. "He worked very well during the week in training. We could tell during the match that he was in better physical condition and we kept him on to the end because we hoped he would score that goal."

The result could have been different had Rodrigo De Paul's 10th-minute strike not been ruled out following a VAR check for a handball earlier in the move. 

And Rodrigo Bentancur, who laid on Ronaldo's second, acknowledged Juve need to start games with more of a spring in their step, starting with their visit to leaders Milan on Wednesday. 

"We didn't start with the right mentality and conceded that goal, which fortunately was disallowed for handball," Bentancur said. 

"We did better after the break, deserved the victory, but again the mentality dropped at the end to concede that goal.

"I think we need to keep that concentration throughout the 90 minutes. We allowed Udinese too many chances and that should not happen.

"I don't mind if I score goals or not. I provided an assist tonight and that's as good as a goal, because I am helping the team.

"This was a victory we wanted and fought hard for. Now we have a couple of days to rest and prepare for Milan."