Friday June 7 2013
Buffon: 'Balotelli unlucky'

Gigi Buffon defended Mario Balotelli and felt Italy rarely give their best in June after he rescued a 0-0 draw in the Czech Republic.

“It is an important point which allows us to reach this final sprint in World Cup qualifying with a four-point lead and three home games. It’s to be considered a positive result,” he told Rai Sport.

“I think the real problem after the end of a season with a month’s gap is to reach that game with the right tension and aggression needed for an international match. Technique is important at this level, but so is determination and aggression.

Balotelli was sent off after receiving two yellow cards in the space of three minutes and took out his frustration by repeatedly punching and kicking the walls of the players’ tunnel.

“We saw him in the locker room and clearly he was disappointed, but I don’t think it’s a problem. He received two yellow cards, which can happen to anyone. He stepped on to the field and gave his all.

“I doubt a second booking can tell whether a player is mature or not. These things can happen on the pitch, so I see nothing particularly serious in it.

“He was unlucky, as it was a mid-air collision that happens many times and I think the booking was harsh, especially considering he was carded a few minutes earlier. It was a foul, but a second yellow for that is excessive. His angry reaction was down to his disappointment, nothing more.”

Buffon was easily Man of the Match for the Azzurri this evening and performed a series of saves, so was also spotted shouting at his defenders.

“The most important thing for every player is to give advice and at certain moments a verbal jolt to get them going. I’m not the only one who does that.

“When it comes to June matches, I remember quite a few poor ones, like a 0-0 in Norway and another with Switzerland. We were often under pressure, so clearly there is something in the timing. After the season we sort of get deflated, as we think the campaign is over, so a month later are unprepared.

“Our training has also been aimed at the Confederations Cup, so our legs are heavy at the moment. More than that I saw a psychological issue and one of tempo, as we struggled to change gear.”

Italy will face Brazil, Mexico and Japan in the Confederations Cup from June 16-30.

“I am optimistic, as I believe firmly in this team, the Coach and the football we play when we’re in good shape. We already began this new convincing approach in Euro 2012 and are continuing along that path.”

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