Pirlo refuses to give up Scudetto after Juventus shock but admits players panicked

By Sports Desk March 21, 2021

Andrea Pirlo said Juventus had the wrong attitude and must show more respect to the shirt after a 1-0 home defeat to Benevento left their Serie A title hopes on the rocks.

The rookie head coach saw his team waste a chance to reduce Inter's advantage over them to seven points, with Adolfo Gaich preying on a calamitous pass from midfielder Arthur in the 69th minute.

Questions over Pirlo's leadership have already been asked and will persist, as the prospect of a 10th successive Scudetto disappears almost over the horizon.

It would take an Inter implosion and for Juventus to suddenly become infallible for Juventus to catch the Nerazzurri. Neither prospect looks likely.

"We needed to turn in a better display but we performed poorly, in every aspect of our game," Pirlo said. "Everything was off today, in our attitude and in technical situations.

"We knew this would be tough, because Benevento are an organised team, who defend effectively with two compact lines. What we needed was to stay calm and make better use of the flanks, but we made a lot of mistakes.

"When the result is hanging in the balance, panic can start to set in and that wasn't the attitude required. We also needed a little extra desire to get the result, because there was a real opportunity for us to close to gap in the league.

"We must continue to believe in the Scudetto, to follow our path and our work and always be there."

Juventus had 73.4 per cent of possession and led the shot count 21-7, with Cristiano Ronaldo having nine attempts as well as a goal disallowed for offside, while a penalty decision was also overturned in the first half.

Benevento's Alessandro Tuia made a game-high 10 clearances as the visitors scrambled to stay level initially and then hold on to their lead.

The fact Benevento, coached by former Juventus striker Filippo Inzaghi, were able to get ahead and stay ahead rankled with Pirlo, with last season's Serie B champions scoring from their one shot on target in the game.

"We have to change our mindset: we wear a jersey of huge importance, which must always be honoured," Pirlo added, quoted on the Juventus website. "Our attitude has to be different in games like this."

After the international break, Juventus will return to Serie A action with a derby against Torino, which should focus minds.

Assessing Arthur's blunder, Pirlo said: "He made a mistake that was not like him. In my opinion, he didn't see the opponent in that area of the field.

"It was a soft mistake, like many others we made. It means that we weren't concentrated and that we didn't give everything to achieve victory."

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