Wednesday March 28 2012
Buffon didn’t expect title bid

Gianluigi Buffon has admitted that he is surprised that Juventus are fighting for the Scudetto this season.

The Old Lady are currently second in the table after finishing the last two campaigns in a lowly seventh place.

“I thought we had little chance, no chance actually, of reaching these heights,” he told the Corriere dello Sport. “I hoped we would, but I didn’t believe.

“The Scudetto race is still not over. Milan have a four-point lead over us, but we certainly won’t give up. We’ll have to give everything until the very end.”

Juventus are actually unbeaten this season and will face Napoli in the Coppa Italia Final on May 20. Buffon has highlighted boss Antonio Conte as the inspiration.

“The secret was the ambition of our Coach from the very first day, supported by hard work and on field instructions,” he stated.

“Our sweat, our strength and our sacrifices pushed us forward, as did the new stadium and the desire to cancel out two bad seasons.”

Buffon, now 34, has returned to his highest levels after some struggles last term. He’s also keen on an extension to his contract which currently runs until 2013.

“You can take criticism, but only up to a certain point,” he noted.

“I know that the first six months following injury were not my best, but I had undergone an operation and I think I could have been allowed two or three mistakes.

“I played well in a few of those games, but the situation was different as Juve were struggling.

“My future? I’ll stay at Juventus for as long as I still feel useful. I don’t want to steal money from them.”

Juventus currently have the best defensive record in the Division and that is also down to the individual brilliance of the Italian international.

“My most important save was at Udine against Isla, then against Boateng in the home game against Milan.

“At San Siro too, against Mexes and Muntari. Everyone talked about the ghost-goal, but forgot that my two saves were not so bad.”

Juventus are next in action on Sunday when they take on Napoli in a dress rehearsal of the Italian Cup finale.

“Napoli are the Italian side that I most admire,” Buffon continued. “I think that they, along with us, play the most entertaining football and you can see the hand of the Coach in their play.

“But we want to lift that trophy. We need to start winning again to trigger an important mechanism. If we do then we’ll have the Italian Super Cup to play for three months later.”