Champions League

Buffon desperate for Champions League win

2015-06-03 10:16
Gianluigi Buffon (File)

Turin - The Champions League is a notable absentee in the impressive honours list of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who considers the empty slot a stimulus in the run-up to the final he plays Saturday against Barcelona.

"I am glad not to have won the Champions League yet. So I feel prodded to play for something prestigious," he said this week.

Still being considered one of the world's best goalkeepers, the 37-year-old Juve captain is often queried about his future, with the term being used as a synonym for retirement.

He usually dodges such hints by focusing on the upcoming game, which in Saturday's case is his second chance to lift the continental trophy.

"If we do not get a win it will be disappointing," he said. "We get into this game with the feeling that we will play against a team who are stronger than us, which is not what we felt in 2003."

The first-ever all-Italian final saw AC Milan prevail on penalties, with Andrea Pirlo celebrating in Manchester the first of the two European trophies he lifted with the Rossoneri.

"A few years ago it was good for me. Now let's hope it goes well for both," said the 36-year-old playmaker, who then won the 2006 World Cup with Buffon and joined him at Juve in 2011 to open a run of four straight Serie A titles.

Buffon was the least optimistic among his teammates as they discussed the Bianconeri's prospects to clinch a season treble, which is also possible for Barcelona as both won their domestic leagues and national cups.

Keeping goal against a stellar attack manned by Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Brazilian Neymar justifies the apprehension of Buffon, who this week must have relished encouragement from Marcello Lippi, who coached him at Juve and steered the Azzurri squad in 2006.

"The favourites are the extraterrestrials of Barcelona, but I do not think that in recent years they met a team with the characteristics of Juventus," Lippi told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"It takes a great performance from Buffon, as he is used to giving, and then some good actions from the strikers because they will certainly have some chances; for instance (Alvaro) Morata or (Carlos) Tevez."

Lippi said that defending is Juve's traditional strong point "and those three (Barcelona strikers) will not get goals with ease. Plus, (Barcelona) allow a lot in defence. If Juve only exploited those concessions… They must just believe in it."

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