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Friday October 25 2013
A mistake to doubt Buffon

Is Gigi Buffon finished as the Italy and Juventus No 1 or is he just going through a bad patch of form? Antonio Labbate writes.

The front page of the Gazzetta dello Sport said he was decisive. The Corriere dello Sport labelled him as a great. Tuttosport went as far as to anoint him as a saint. That was on September 7, 2013, the morning after Gianluigi Buffon saved Italy in the crucial 1-0 win over Bulgaria which pretty much wrapped up the Azzurri’s place at the 2014 World Cup.

“Gigi was extraordinary for us tonight,” admitted a relieved Cesare Prandelli after the Palermo encounter. “He earned us the result. His fine stops were the equivalent of a striker scoring a brace.”

One parry in particular, from Ivelin Popov, won comparisons with Gordan Banks’ heroic effort to stun Pele during the Mexico ‘70 encounter between England and Brazil. It was simply extraordinary, a split second illustration of what has made Gigi one of the best, if not the best, Italian goalkeeper of all-time.

That save contained the dynamics of one that should be remembered for a lifetime. But, in the world of Italian football, it has been forgotten within the space of just six weeks. Now, instead of hailing the ability of Buffon, we are being forced to read accusations that an ageing Gigi is past it, a player ready for the scrapheap at club and international level.

Those who have put the 35-year-old on trial in recent times do come equipped with what they suggest is proof. There were some unconvincing showings at the Confederations Cup where Italy conceded with regularity, the Lazio and the Chievo games also provided examples of errors, while the latest exhibit to be entered into evidence is the Giuseppe Rossi goal conceded in the 4-2 loss at Fiorentina on Sunday.

Some of those mistakes have been costly – Buffon would acknowledge that himself – but what exactly do those particularly unconvincing moments prove? That he is finished or that he is going through a problematic spell of form?

If Buffon is guilty of anything, it is that he has accustomed us all to an immense level of goalkeeping which doesn’t allow him the right to make a mistake in a role where errors are, more often than not, brutally punished.

Juventus, via director general Beppe Marotta and Coach Antonio Conte, have defended the former Parma custodian this week. Italy boss Prandelli, too, has publicly backed the shot-stopper. “There is no Buffon problem. Gigi has my maximum faith and he will be the starter at the World Cup.”

Not only does Buffon deserve such support, but that show of belief comes from three men who know how rare good quality goalkeepers are these days. It’s all very well demanding that Buffon be consigned to history, but showing Gigi the door would be a lot easier than actually replacing him.

The reality is that the Italian school of goalkeeping has still not delivered us a ready-made replacement for a man who made his Serie A debut in 1995. Look at the struggles of Mattia Perin – ‘a new Buffon’ – over the last 12 months and what Federico Marchetti got up to in the 2-2 draw with Armenia. Meanwhile, take into account the performances of Morgan De Sanctis – a 36-year-old who has rediscovered his form at Roma after a problematic season at Napoli last time out.

While the Superman incarnation of Buffon may have left this planet for good, the latter remains a player with few equals in Italy or abroad. He may continue to make more miscalculations than he ever has done in the past, but it would be safe to say that the Juventus and Italy rearguard would feel more comfortable with San Gigi behind them than any other shot-stopper.

The day will eventually arrive when Juventus and Italy will have to say goodbye to Buffon, but the least he deserves after 15 years at the top is a bit of time to prove he’s still got something special in those gloves. And Buffon clearly thinks he has. “Great champions, in negative moments, accumulate a new anger which prolongs their career,” he said this week. Let’s hope he’s furious.

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Have your say...
reason behind the early elimination of WC 2010 was that we lost Gigi Buffon during WC 2010. Machetti is not worth to be Azzuri Goal keeper, Sirrugi is much better incase of bufon's absence.
on the 9th January, 2014 at 9:59pm
Fools, Gianluigi Buffon, although being passed his prime, has been the greatest keeper of the last 15 years. When that man is on form he makes unblock-able shots look like easy grabs. Pure class, and anyone who thinks he's done right now when Italy needs him most is a moron. Italians in soccer have been unfortunately unrealistic in the past, but when italians giocano calcio with their hearts, they are unbeatable, 2006 is a perfect example.
on the 20th November, 2013 at 2:54am
Buffon is a best ever goalkeeper! love a different anonymous
on the 30th October, 2013 at 12:08pm
LOL at the comment from BOSS to Matt.

As for the topic, Buffon is past his best. But he is still good and is charismatic which is more then you can say for most of the boring footballers.

With regard to BOSS and Zoli discussing anonymous bloggers, it is quite pathetic when you get these anonymous bloggers posting nonsense a bit like what i can see above. Some people evidently have alot of time on their hands.
on the 28th October, 2013 at 2:28pm
Hey It’s me BOSS, or is it me Boss? or has somebody stolen my clever alias, Guess we will never know, as I will make a post saying that wasn’t me the true BOSS who wrote this, but then maybe I am just doing that, OH KNOW, but I retract my statement, Juve are very good, not crap, Love BOSS, xxxxxx
on the 28th October, 2013 at 1:05pm
Hahaha I love guys like you “Boss”, you just take the bait so easily, I can imagine you fingers furiously typing your little response to me, hahahaha. Juve can only play what is in front of them, you should have made it clear you meant they are "crap" compared to the best in England and Spain and Germany, but you just said they are a crap team. Barca must be a really crap team, worse than Juve, last season they lost to Bayern by a greater margin than Juve, so by your kind of ranking system.
on the 28th October, 2013 at 1:02pm
BOSS don't go off a tangent with this "anonymous" thing, come back from the dark side.
I too wrote anonymously the first few times until I felt more comfortable with this site - probably I'm not alone. People are innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around you follow.
Just because Juve couldn't go all the way on the continent doesn't mean they are a bad team. Far from it, I wish Milan was that "bad". Looking at EPL standings Man U looks like a bad team but they're anything but.
on the 27th October, 2013 at 11:36pm
Anonymous/coward

Yes there is a distinction in our user names. I leave a trail of posts. Yours fall under an umbrella of other cowards utilising that alias. People can respond to me and you know what I post because I have the same signature. You can't be identified, which is obviously what you want, as you're fearful to get into a debate. It's not about being a warrior, this isn't a wrestling ring, it's about being able to debate you're points, irrespective of how rubbish they might be.
on the 27th October, 2013 at 5:22pm
Because anonymous and "boss" is really different? Yeah you're right. You are so brave to use "boss" as your alias. You my friend, are a fearless warrior.
on the 26th October, 2013 at 8:40pm
Anonymous (AKA coward with no name)

A team that wins serie a is not a good team. I say that because it is a league ranked fourth. It's like Saul Alvarez being undefeated against garbage opponents. When he fights mayweather he gets whooped. EPL and la liga is where the mayweather's hang out, serie a is where the alvarez's hang out. Understand?

No Italian team can perform in Europe. Europe is the marker I use. Therefore I can conclude that juve is crap.

Use a name u spineless wimp.
on the 26th October, 2013 at 6:05pm
Matt

Mate, I think you're watching Buffon a little too closely as well as sirigu.

"His body is too skinny"

"His body is in top shape"

Lol how do you know eh, you taking their measurements ?
on the 26th October, 2013 at 5:58pm
@boss, Juve are crap?? Wind your neck in, they have won the league the last two seasons, Going undefeated in one season, and across both boasting one of the best defences in Europe. Yes they struggle in Europe and I don’t think they will win the league this year, and they are not playing as well, but don’t just say ridiculous things, and as for going for a drink with Buffon, I’m sure he will be flattered that you would go for a drink with him, I’m sure the conversation would be exhilarating.
on the 26th October, 2013 at 12:20pm
Well said zoli
on the 26th October, 2013 at 10:49am
a big nonsense to write off Buffon as one of world's best gk. he's still--if not among the best--the finest gk. Juve loses because of their players on the defense.
on the 26th October, 2013 at 6:18am
I am sure Gigi realized he's not the keeper he was, way before anyone else did, but I trust his judgement.
Over the years his immense talent, professionalism, personality and honesty elevated him into the football greats elite.

If he is not the right man for the job he would be the very first to admit it and step down.
on the 26th October, 2013 at 5:40am
I truly do believe he'll find his form again but his physical fitness level is a nagging concern. He's really thinned out. He lacks that agility and confidence in his movements too.

His end is no longer over the hills unfortunately. Gigi is hands down my favourite player and keeper or all time. Finding that replacement will be a nightmare I reckon.

I'd love to see Courtois be the Heir at Juve.
on the 26th October, 2013 at 3:16am
It's heresy to talk about San Buffon in such ways!
More hysterical media. Yes, he's made mistakes but so have Juve players that have won back to back titles...if we're saying that we should sack the whole team then everyone is doomed.
Buffon is Buffon. The greatest keeper we've ever had. People are so used to him performing match winning miracles that a blip with the rest of the team is considered unthinkable. He has probably planned all of this to test our faith...
San Buffon non si tocca.
on the 25th October, 2013 at 11:26pm
I also believe we should sell Chiellini and Marchisio. Giorgio has been at fault for several goals this season, including both goals in Madrid. His level has dropped alarmingly and if rumours are true of Barcelona's interest, then we should sell him. Marchisio is a total waste of space and is playing like a player who knows he will play every match, regardless of form. I have never rated him and the fact he has played over 200 games is an insult to the Juventus legends who have played less.
on the 25th October, 2013 at 11:19pm
Gigi is the best goalkeeper I have every seen and one of my favourite Juventus players ever, but he is not the goalkeeper he was. He has made more errors this season than the previous two combined and does not have the same agility or confidence that made him the best in the world. I think we should replace him for next season and I would like Sirigu or Lloris to be our new number one. Nothing lasts forever and I believe we need to be radical and revamp every area of the squad.
on the 25th October, 2013 at 11:08pm
He has been and still the best.
on the 25th October, 2013 at 8:51pm
People fail to assess goalkeeping technically. Buffon's footwork has become flat. His positioning is no longer impeccable. His reflexes have slowed. His body is too skinny. Plus he looks worried every game he plays.

Sirigu should be the starter. His body is in top shape. His stance is light, weight on the front part of his feet. His technique is top notch, controlling balls in front of his body or driving them away from goal. He is decisive and calm.
on the 25th October, 2013 at 7:34pm
We can't blame June's losses on Buffon, juve are just a crap team.

Focusing on Gigi, he seems like a nice guy I'd go for a drink with and he was a great goalkeeper. He has for the last years just been average though. Also, his penalty saving is terrible, he should be subbed when it comes to shoot outs because he can't save them.

That being said, it is right there are no replacements. So he has to stay. The defence and midfield are more important then the keeper at the moment.
on the 25th October, 2013 at 6:25pm
Guys this is a bit like if messi starts scoring 30 goals a season you will all start saying he is finished, Buffon is an icon show some respect
on the 25th October, 2013 at 6:03pm
Salvatore Sirigu is more than ready. Italians really need to get in touch with reality.

Sirigu must start or the world cup will be a disaster
on the 25th October, 2013 at 5:39pm
Form is temporary, class is permanent!! Juve's poor run at the moment is down to numerous mistakes from outfield players, getting caught in possession, chillieni against inter, pogba was another example, also misplaced passes, trying to overplay at the back, so buffon is being exposed a number of chances. I just worry when he get it to fee, his kicking is poor, and control, well, it could have cost the league 2 years ago
on the 25th October, 2013 at 2:18pm
A, you left out another factor-fitness. Gigi has been playing top flight football for 17-18 years & this really is starting to show. He looks like he has lost his sharpness, both physically & mentally. I said similar things about Gattuso & Zambrotta back in 2009. I was shot down, but then , (sadly), was proven right a year later. I would love Buffon to prove me wrong, but given both his & our defenders performances of late, there is clear cause for concern.
on the 25th October, 2013 at 1:08pm
buffon is finished.
go home buffon take a break.
on the 25th October, 2013 at 12:54pm
People will eat their words. Do not mistake form and ability. Every other keeper on earth has made these errors throughout their whole careers - its only we are so unaccustomed from not seeing it from histories greatest. Mind you, these same clowns said the same about Pirlo.
on the 25th October, 2013 at 11:46am
At times i've wondered is it time to replace Buffon but time and time again he's proved me wrong, I think he'll be the hardest boots to fill for Juve and Italy maybe Bardi?
on the 25th October, 2013 at 11:15am
He's had two great games in the past 6 months, (away to the Czechs & Bulgaria). Aside from that, he has been average at best. He has looked nervous, sluggish, & has lacked concentration. I do not like saying these things as he has been an incredible keeper, whilst also coming across a great person. Sirigu has been in much better form & deserves a run in the team. CP must not repeat the same mistakes that Lippi made, in taking players clearly past their best to Brazil.
on the 25th October, 2013 at 10:55am

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