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."

Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been watching clips of Filippo Inzaghi to fine-tune his game after Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti drew comparisons between the strikers.

Calvert-Lewin has scored nine goals in six games this season for Everton, including two hat-tricks, in what has been a hugely encouraging start to 2020-21 for the Toffees.

Indeed, no player across Europe's top five leagues has scored as many goals in all competitions since the season began.

The 23-year-old's form earned him a first senior England call-up ahead of a friendly with Wales on Thursday and Nations League matches against Belgium and Denmark to follow.

Ancelotti suggested there were similarities between the styles of Calvert-Lewin and former Italy, Juventus and Milan striker Inzaghi, the 2006 World Cup winner who was one of Europe's elite penalty-box strikers for more than 20 years.

As a result, Calvert-Lewin sought out some old footage of Inzaghi, a winner of two Champions Leagues and three Serie A titles, to pick up some tips.

"Carlo's definitely had a positive influence on me," Calvert-Lewin said on Tuesday. "I think, for me, with the age I'm getting to now, I'm evolving as a centre-forward, I'm learning my craft and fine-tuning certain aspects of my game.

"Beforehand, I think I was guilty of doing a lot of my best work away from the goal. Now, I'm focusing on getting in between the sticks and putting the ball in the back of the net.

"I think that analogy from Carlo was just an emphasis on being in the right place at the right time, not to say that I'm a carbon copy of Pippo Inzaghi.

"But if there's elements of his game that I've been showing in my game at the moment, them one-touch finishes and being in the right areas and putting the ball in the back of the net.

"Funnily enough, he mentioned it to me before he came out and said it in the press, and I had a little YouTube of his goals, like a 15-minute reel of him. Obviously, a lot of his goals are one-touch finishes and he's got great movement.

"You can always learn. I'm still learning now, so I always try to take it in."

Calvert-Lewin would have been unlikely to be considered for Euro 2020 had the tournament gone ahead this year, but with the coronavirus pandemic pushing the finals back to 2021, he has a good chance of making Gareth Southgate's squad if he can keep up his form.

"My performances have got me here now," he said. "Consistency is key. If I stay consistent, I like to think I'd be in with a chance of playing in the Euros."

Juventus' elimination from the Champions League spelled the end for Maurizio Sarri and the start of a new era under Andrea Pirlo.

Despite leading the Bianconeri to a ninth straight Scudetto in 2019-20, Sarri was fired after Juve crashed out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage to Lyon on Friday.

Pirlo was at the heart of Juve's brilliant midfield during the start of their Serie A dominance, winning four Scudetti, the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana twice during a four-year stint that ended when he moved to New York City in 2015.

A week after returning to Juve as their Under-23 boss, Pirlo was handed the reins of the first team ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

He is not the first club legend to go back and manage a team they played for, though, and we have taken a look at the biggest successes and failures.

HITS

Pep Guardiola

After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as the Barca B boss in 2007 before being promoted to head coach of the first team a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola's way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Zinedine Zidane

World Cup winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping away in May 2018, only to return 10 months later. He has already won LaLiga and the Supercopa de Espana in his second stint.

Antonio Conte

In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won almost everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Juve won three straight Scudetti under Conte – the start of their ongoing dominance – before he accepted the Italy job in 2014. Pirlo will have to get the better of his former coach Conte, now at Inter, if he is to maintain the Bianconeri's run of titles.

Roberto Di Matteo

Di Matteo accepted the top job at Chelsea in 2012, having previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich, but he was discarded early in the following season.

MISSES

Alan Shearer

Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer's playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006, Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try and save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was unsuccessful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.

Filippo Inzaghi

Employing former players as head coaches had previously worked well for Milan – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. When the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf's brief tenure, the move was therefore no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning just 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league position in 17 years.

Thierry Henry

Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez's assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October 2018 Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.

Juan Jose Lopez

One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing River into a play-off against Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. It was the first time River dropped out of the top tier, sparking riots which left many people injured.

Filippo Inzaghi's Benevento clinched promotion to Serie A on Monday with seven league games to spare.

Former Cagliari striker Marco Sau came off the bench to score the only goal in Benevento's 1-0 victory over Juve Stabia, a result that sealed the Serie B title.

Benevento, who have won 23 of their 31 league games and lost just once, have a 24-point advantage over Crotone and Cittadella.

Ascoli were the last club to be promoted with seven games remaining, and they did so in 1977-78 when only two points were awarded for a victory.

Benevento were promoted to Serie A for the first time in their history three years ago, but they were relegated after just one campaign having lost their first 14 games.

Former Milan and Bologna boss Inzaghi took over 12 months ago and will re-join his brother and Lazio coach Simone in Italy's top flight next term.

Benevento look to be preparing for life in Serie A already as ex-Chelsea and Marseille striker Loic Remy was reported to have arrived for a medical on Monday ahead of signing.

Filippo Inzaghi believes Italian sides are willing to play in August to complete the season and warned some clubs could disappear if it is not finished.

Italy has suffered heavily during the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the world, with over 10,000 recorded deaths so far in the country, and the government has suspended all domestic sport until at least April 3.

The break is likely to continue beyond that date but former Milan striker Inzaghi, now head coach of runaway Serie B leaders Benevento, has warned of the ramifications of scrapping the campaign.

"Talking about football is difficult," Inzaghi told Sky Sport Italia. "We have all taken a step back for our health, which is the highest priority.

"By the time everything ends, we want to start playing again - it would be the right thing. We all want to finish what we started eight months ago, and the championships must be finished.

"It would be the best solution to avoid misunderstandings and prevent someone from being damaged.

"We are ready to play in June, July and August: we want to end this championship, any other decision will penalise someone. We will go to the courts, some clubs will disappear, so football could risk losing two years, not two months."

Inzaghi has guided Benevento to 21 victories in 28 games so far this season, while brother Simone is enjoying a successful campaign in the top tier with Lazio.

The Biancoceleste are second in Serie A, just a point behind leaders Juventus, and Filippo was full of praise for both his brother and Ciro Immobile, Lazio's leading scorer.

"He is better than me in everything," said the Benevento boss. "I can only learn from Simone: he is a modern coach and seeing his Lazio side is a spectacle."

Asked to name a player similar to himself, Inzaghi added: "I don't like making comparisons, but I say that Immobile is the best Italian player.

"He always scores, always decisive. He is the centre-forward that I like best."

One story is dominating the sporting agenda in Spain on Saturday: Xavi's potential return to Barcelona.

The Catalan giants have reportedly earmarked the club great to take over from the under-pressure Ernesto Valverde at the end of the season, and held informal discussions with him on Friday in Doha.

Xavi, 39, is currently coach at Al Sadd but would likely relish a return to Camp Nou, where he won eight LaLiga titles and four Champions League trophies during a glittering playing career.

A strong affinity with a club is not a guarantee of success, however, and we have taken a look at eight other examples of players returning to manage teams they starred for.

 

HITS

Pep Guardiola

After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as the Barca B boss in 2007 before being promoted to head coach of the first team a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola's way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Zinedine Zidane

World Cup winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping away in May 2018, only to return 10 months later.

Antonio Conte

In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won almost everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Juve won three straight Scudetti under Conte – the start of their ongoing dominance – before he accepted the Italy job. He is now back in Serie A and thriving with the Old Lady's bitter rivals Inter.

Roberto Di Matteo

Like Lampard, Di Matteo accepted the top job at Chelsea in 2012, having previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich, but he was discarded early in the following season.

MISSES

Alan Shearer

Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer's playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006, Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try and save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was unsuccessful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.

Filippo Inzaghi

Employing former players as head coaches had previously worked well for AC Milan – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. When the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf's brief tenure, the move was therefore no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league finish in 17 years.

Thierry Henry

Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez's assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October 2018 Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.

Juan Jose Lopez

One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing River into a play-off against Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. It was the first time River dropped out of the top tier, sparking riots which left many people injured.

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