NEWS
Wednesday February 29 2012
Buffon: 'Italy suffer friendlies'

Gianluigi Buffon believes Italy only perform “when there’s a lot at stake,” which explains their recent friendly slump.

“There’s no need to get worried, even if it is disconcerting to lose two consecutive friendlies, albeit with three or four months between them,” he said after a 1-0 defeat to USA.

The Azzurri have lost four matches under Coach Cesare Prandelli and all of them have been friendlies, including their last outing of 2011 against Uruguay.

“They interrupt such a long run of excellent results and that is a shame, although it’s worth saying we absolutely did not deserve defeat tonight.

“Looking back at the defeats, they were all friendlies and at the end of the day we probably play our best games when there’s a lot at stake. It also helps when we play abroad in a fiery atmosphere, such as in Poland. That makes the tension rise and we are ready. I hope that is the only reason.”

It was an experimental squad this evening, as Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi have long-term injuries, while Mario Balotelli and Daniel Pablo Osvaldo were dropped for breaking the code of ethics with bans at club level for reaction fouls.

“The Coach is fortunate enough to choose among a group of players. There have been some unusual situations that we hope won’t happen again and I’m sure we will go to Euro 2012 with all the players in their place,” added Buffon.

Italy’s Euro 2012 group includes Spain, Croatia and the Republic of Ireland. This evening the Spanish thrashed Venezuela 5-0.

“They are the reigning world and European champions, so that’s enough to show their strength and confidence. We think that we are a good side, but still have to prove ourselves and make the last step up in quality when the time comes.”

It has been a controversial week for Buffon, who clawed Sulley Muntari’s header away after it had crossed the line and then admitted he wouldn’t have told the referee even if he had realised it was a goal.

A group of children in the stands at Marassi tonight held up a banner that read: Don’t worry, Gigi, it’s only a goal when it hits the net!

“It was funny and I appreciated that. The fear was that children wouldn’t understand the situation, but it seems they got it more than anyone else.”

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