Monday June 18 2012
Buffon: 'Thank you, Spain!'

Gianluigi Buffon thanked Spain for helping Italy qualify and felt it was “a sign” that Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli got the goals.

The Azzurri beat the Republic of Ireland 2-0, but that was only enough because Spain defeated Croatia 1-0, as a 1-1 draw would’ve knocked them out.

“I’ve been relaxed for the last four days, as our only concern was our match. This is because I was absolutely convinced Spain would win their game and we must thank them,” said Buffon.

“I was relaxed, as knowing Spain they would be likely to keep the ball for the final minute. They didn’t? Lucky I didn’t watch it, then!

“As I said to the Dutch four years ago, who beat Romania to help us through, we will always keep a fondness for them. I might retire in a few years, but we must remember that.

“There were two dangerous shots, as their midfielder hit free kicks very well. The important thing was to win, especially as so far we’ve always made every game balanced, whether against stronger or weaker sides. That can be a good or a bad thing and we needed the cynicism that we found this evening.

“Our minimum objective was to go through to the knockouts. We could go out, as there are strong teams left in the competition, but now we’re here we can really go for it.”

Cassano and Balotelli finally broke their droughts to score in tonight’s game.

“It’s a great sign because we really needed Cassano and Balotelli, who despite good performances had been unable to score.

“In the Euros you play every four days and it’s really difficult to recover. In my view, in the long run teams will feel the fatigue. The Coach changed his line-up because he has faith in all 23 players, but he also changed system and these players were more suited to those characteristics.”

Buffon also posted some messages on his Facebook page this week criticising the media for focusing on the betting scandal or the potential 2-2 draw between Spain and Croatia.

“I accept criticism and nastiness with a smile on my face. I’m glad with the internet we have found a diplomatic way for players to give their own unfiltered position without it being misinterpreted.”