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. 

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."

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."

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Juventus bounced back from their Fiorentina fiasco with a 4-1 win over Udinese at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday. 

Andrea Pirlo's side suffered a humiliating 3-0 home defeat to La Viola before the mid-season break, but they kicked off 2021 with a win that ensured the gap to Serie A leaders Milan remained at 10 points. 

Ronaldo put Juve ahead in the 31st minute with a fine strike after Udinese's Rodrigo de Paul had seen an effort ruled out by VAR. 

Federico Chiesa and Ronaldo then made sure Juve avoided going three consecutive home games without a win for the first time since 2015-16.

Marvin Zeegelaar snatched a consolation for Udinese, but Paulo Dybala had the final say in stoppage time.

 

Andrea Pirlo has been encouraged by the attitude of his Juventus players since their return to training after a home humbling at the hands of Fiorentina brought an awful end to 2020.

Rookie coach Pirlo had been unbeaten in Serie A heading into the final match of last year, with only Juve and leaders Milan yet to taste defeat across Europe's 'top five' leagues at that point.

But the Bianconeri lost that record after they went down 3-0 in Turin following Juan Cuadrado's early red card, just their second home league loss to Fiorentina in 30 years.

A short mid-season break gave the sixth-placed defending champions time to stew on that painful result, which followed a 1-1 draw with Atalanta in their previous home match.

Not since early in the 2015-16 season have Juve gone three home games without a win, however, and Pirlo's men are determined to bounce back when they host Udinese on Sunday.

"I found the players well after a period of vacation," Pirlo told Juventus TV. "On Monday, I found a team eager to restart after the last bad performance.

"We have almost all the players back, so we now look to make a good recovery in the league.

"We talked about the match against Fiorentina, which was completely wrong in terms of attitude and everything; we couldn't end 2020 like this.

"There was a nice meeting where we talked and discussed future goals, so it was also productive."

Although Juve are 10 points off the pace with a game in hand, having drawn six times in 13 matches, Pirlo saw "good progress" in the first part of the campaign.

The Bianconeri won the Scudetto in 2001-02 when they were last held as many as six times through 13 rounds and a similar late-season improvement is anticipated this term.

"I would not like to see more matches like the one with Fiorentina," Pirlo added. "But for the rest, we made a good progress, improving on many aspects.

"I am convinced that we can do even better, because we have everything to be able to do much better."

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