Thursday March 16 2017
Cannavaro: ‘Buffon deserves CL’

Fabio Cannavaro believes Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon “deserves to lift the Champions League”.

The Bianconeri qualified for the Quarter-Finals with Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Porto, with the goalkeeper stating afterward that he wants to avoid Leicester City in the next round.

“Gigi is superstitious, he says that but deep down he’d like it,” Cannavaro explained to Gazzetta dello Sport.

“It would mean that in the Quarter-Finals, Juve would have an excellent chance of continuing their journey. At this point only the best go through.

“Juventus aren’t lacking anything to reach the final. I hope they do, Gigi deserves to lift the Champions League, after winning everything else.

“[Massimiliano] Allegri has the team defending as 11, so it’s not just the - excellent - defensive line which counts, but also the more aggressive attitude of the team.

“Can the veterans be decisive? Definitely, because in these matches there’s a particular nuance, and those with experience know how to read moments of the game better.

“Above all [Andrea] Barzagli and [Giorgio] Chiellini might be more fresh now after their injuries earlier in the season.”

Cannavaro was then asked who he believes will be the biggest challengers to the Old Lady.

“I’m not saying anything new if I say the Spanish teams and Bayern [Munich]. Carlo Ancelotti has been able to relieve the pressure at Bayern Munich, they’re not favourites but they play really good football.

“Instead it’s Barcelona who are favourites after their spectacular comeback against Paris Saint-Germain. So far [Lionel] Messi hasn’t been at his best, but if he wakes up…

“[Diego] Simeone’s Atletico [Madrid] are a tough opponent for anyone, even if they have a little less quality and Real [Madrid] aren’t as spectacular as in previous years, but they’re solid because they have a very strong defence and midfield.”

As a Neapolitan, the former centre-back was asked about Napoli’s exploits in the Champions League this season.

“Napoli still aren’t on that level, they had some pretty good performances but Madrid are on a higher level,” Cannavaro said.

“Right now the Champions League can’t be taken from the big clubs with higher turnovers and the best players.

“As mad as it sounds to say, for the growth of the club it might be better to aim to win the Europa League. That would be a big step forward, not a step down, for the Azzurri.

“I know what the fans think, and it’s always nice to see Napoli in the Champions League, but it’s about taking it step-by-step. Right now Napoli can’t win the Champions League.

“Juventus? They’ve dominated the League for six years, and that’s not good. The Champions League matches are at the highest level, and it’s not easy to step it up.

“It’s not just in Italy though, the Leagues are over in Germany and England too. We’re going more and more toward an elite football, in which the average clubs struggle to keep up not just technically, but in terms of budget.”

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