Pirlo defends decision to rest Ronaldo as Juve drop points again

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Juventus head coach Andrea Pirlo defended the decision to rest star forward Cristiano Ronaldo after his side were held to a 1-1 draw by Benevento.

Pirlo revealed on the eve of Saturday's Serie A clash that Ronaldo would not make the trip to Ciro Vigorito as he was "a bit tired".

The Portugal international has played 14 times for club and country this season, scoring in eight of those matches, including Juventus' last two games.

Juve struggled in Ronaldo's absence against Benevento as they scored from one of their 16 attempts - Alvaro Morata's first-half strike, which was cancelled out by Gaetano Letizia.

But Pirlo was content with his big call to rest the 35-year-old, which was a decision taken even though Juve are already through to the last 16 of the Champions League with two games to spare.

"He had a little problem on Wednesday and wanted to play in the Champions League anyway," Pirlo told Sky Sport Italia.

"When you play for the national time it is normal to get tired and need a rest. This time is was Ronaldo's turn to be left out.

"It's a shame because he definitely adds value and he shows that in every match he plays. But we have to play our game even when he is not involved.

"He was tired and needed a rest, which is normal when you play lots of matches close together. We're hardly the only club in this situation."

Juve have won only one of their last nine Serie A away games and have conceded at least once in their last 10 such matches, stretching back into last season before Pirlo arrived.

The Bianconeri are three points adrift of Milan, who host Fiorentina in Sunday's game in hand, and Pirlo acknowledged his side need to learn to become more streetwise.

"We controlled the first half of the match and had chances to kill it off, but we haven't worked out how to read various moments of the match," he said.

"We had a corner on the stroke of half-time and took it quickly before they scored. We should have controlled the situation and held out until the break.

"It's not the first time we have conceded just before the interval.

"We are working on the development of the play. We have one more attacking winger, one who comes from deeper. At times it works, at others it doesn't."

Morata's well-taken strike makes it 11 goal involvements for the striker this season - eight goals and three assists - which is 48 per cent of Juve's overall tally of 23.

However, the Spain international was sent off at the full-time whistle for something he said to the officials in a match that saw six cards handed out in the final 10 minutes.

And Pirlo accepted his side lacked the composure needed to find a way through Benevento after taking control of the match in the second half.

"At the end we got a bit chaotic and lost our cool," Pirlo said. "We didn't manage to turn the chances into goals.

"Unfortunately, when games get chaotic and messy we have to play clean football and take control of the match. Otherwise we struggle, as we did today and against Crotone.

"We've got to learn the moments of the game, when to kill it off and when to control the tempo."

Benevento have now taken four points from their last two games, following a run of four successive league defeats, and Pirlo's former team-mate Filippo Inzaghi felt his side could even have snatched a win.

"A few months ago we were fighting on muddy pitches in Serie B, now we are holding Juventus, and we could maybe have won it if we'd been a bit smarter on the counter," Inzaghi said.

"These lads deserve to enjoy this evening, they've done so well over the last 18 months. When you get a result against Juventus, one of the best teams in Europe, you need everything to go your way.

"You would think avoiding defeat to Juventus was practically impossible, but seeing them train over the last few days, I had an inkling we could do it. They will enjoy this, because it's the first time Benevento have got a result against Juventus."

Source Omnisport