Tuesday July 2 2013
Backing Buffon

Gianluigi Buffon still has a role to play with Italy, writes Giancarlo Rinaldi, in drawing comparisons with Dino Zoff’s situation faced in 1978.

Brandts. Haan. Nelinho. Dirceu. Their names rang out like sniper shots aimed at taking down the glorious career of one of Italy's finest. And yet, four years later - as if his goalkeeper's kit had been constructed of Kevlar - Dino Zoff was lifting the World Cup in one of the most iconic images in the Azzurri's history.

For those of you too young to remember, the Juventus legend became a scapegoat for defeats by Holland and Brazil which gave a bitter end to Club Italia's trip to Argentina in 1978. In both matches, Enzo Bearzot's men lost a lead to two blistering long-range strikes. The Dutch defeat cost them a place in the final, while succumbing to the South Americans lost them the third and fourth-place play-off.

People quickly forgot all the years of great service Zoff had provided as they called for him to be replaced. They also ignored the knock to the head he had taken not long before the first Oranje strike whistled past him. He is 36-years-old, they reasoned, his days at the top level are over. It was time, perhaps, for someone like eternal understudy Ivano Bordon - nearly a decade his junior - to take up the post.

Instead, Dino drew strength from his disasters and went on to enjoy a glorious Indian summer to his career. There would be a couple more Scudetti - his bread and butter with Juventus - and that memorable Mondiale in Spain. Even his famously impenetrable features had the slightest hint of vindication in his victory smile.

I could not help thinking of him recently as people started to train their sights on Gigi Buffon. His performances at the Confederations Cup had some speculating his days in international football might be numbered. Their evidence came from shots which whistled into his goal or he failed to parry away into the safest of areas. He's 35-years-old, they opined, it’s time to let somebody like Salvatore Sirigu - nearly a decade his junior - get their chance.

The Juve shot-stopper had a chance to give a quick-fire response to his critics in a third and fourth-place penalty shoot-out with Uruguay. He saved three out of five and gave a lie to the view - which I have myself purveyed - that stopping spot-kicks is not a forte. They may not have been the best attempts, but they still had to be saved.

The clamour for him to be replaced between the posts died down a little after that but there still remain some doubts simmering away in the background. Certainly, if Cesare Prandelli were contemplating a change, he would need to make it now. There would be little or no sense in dropping an Italian institution on the eve of a major competition.

But, surely, there is no need to press the panic button just yet. After performing at the top-level for years and with the inspirational qualities he can provide, Buffon still has a fair bit left to offer. And it's not as if his potential replacements are flaw-free.

There is, of course, a nagging concern over injuries - particularly to his back - which have threatened to draw his career to an end before. That situation will have to be monitored closely in case it starts to send his form into decline. Otherwise, I reckon he has earned a bit more time before jettisoning his services is seriously considered.

It is another era, of course, from the one in which Zoff enjoyed his wonderful twilight years. Few would expect Buffon to play on into his 40s at the very highest level in these more physically demanding days for a goalkeeper. But, don't forget, his next World Cup is just a year away - not four like Dino's was back in 1978.

If Bearzot had listened to the public outcry back then, think of the moments we might never have had. That great goal-line grab against Zico's Brazil, raising the trophy aloft to the triple cry of Campioni del Mondo and, of course, a game of cards with the President on the plane home. Old Enzo knew it would be daft to ditch Zoff after a couple of shaky matches and, I suspect, Cesare understands exactly the same when it comes to Buffon. He might not lift another World Cup next year - the odds are probably stacked against it - but he at least deserves the opportunity to have the chance of doing so.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
Gigi Buffon is came to the world from another planet, he is still number one goalie of the century.

what a save, what a confidence, What a humbleness What a professionalism in the pitch and outside of the pitch.

Buffon forever. UP BUFFON, forza AZZURI!!!!!!!
on the 8th July, 2013 at 1:15pm
three penalty saves against uruguay. as someone mentioned, the best ever, that i've seen, at commanding and mentoring a backline, anywhere, any day, any time from now to eternity. the reason people get angry when gigi is human is because he's been superhuman for so long.
on the 5th July, 2013 at 12:09am
Attention should be paid to Italy's defence line. Buffon is not much of a problem. Remember he saved the Azzurris in the Czech republic a month ago.
on the 4th July, 2013 at 5:40am
GiGI Buffon, is the best goalie I have ever seen, He is the classiest man on the pitch. This discussion is insane. This is the michael Jordan of goal tending. FORZA JUVE, FORZA BUFON, FORZA ITALIA!!!!!!
on the 4th July, 2013 at 4:13am
DG, as usual, we agree:)
Regardless of class, the rust creeps in and time is not on our side but he is still up there and the best for the job.

The fact this article was written is another reminder of just how much the world changed. All here asking for Gigi's head are born perfectionists that never made any mistakes, had a bad day, wrong vibes, even a hick-up etc. in their professional lives.
Very enviable and impressive!

I should have taken the blue pill too [Neo] :)
on the 4th July, 2013 at 1:49am
Whilst I'd retain him in goal, the past few weeks have highlighted a few chinks in his armour. Our sentiment & respect for the great man should not blind us to these! Being the great pro that he is I expect him to work on his handling, positioning, & agility even mor I do think that Prandelli should have given his other keepers a go in 3rd place play off. I do not want another situation next year where Buffon gets injured & then his replacement comes in cold, with little international experience
on the 3rd July, 2013 at 10:04am
forget abt replacing gigi...players like gilardinho shud not even be selected.... he is the most sorry selection ive ever seen in my footballing knowledge....i just cannot rate this man even as a midiocre player...does he really deserve to be in serie A?
on the 3rd July, 2013 at 4:27am
It's time for Prandelli to grow up and just play 3CBs. The world cup is next year. Let's start a permanent adaptation to 3CBs now. With only 2CBs Italy will have a recurrence of their Japan and Brazil matches.When that happens in the world cup Italy will be eliminated. Thanks Prandelli. Prandelli is clueless/apathetic about Italy's defense. We need 3CBs NOW! 3-4-2-1 is an excellent formation for Italy. Give it a chance Prandelli!
on the 3rd July, 2013 at 3:01am
Buffon is still among the top keepers in the world and at his age that's saying something which one of u wouldn't want him minding ur teams net the only other keeper that strikes that sort of fear right now at this monent imo is neuer
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 11:32pm
Who is a better goalkeeper right now? Neuer probably the best in the world.

Who else can be said to be better than Buffon?
Certainly no Italians. Hart? Julio Cesar? Lloris? Casillas? Valdes? Stekelenburg (lol)? Cech? Muslera? Handanovic?

...The only goalkeepers in the world that can be spoken in the same sentence as Buffon are Casillas and Neuer and Casillas hasn't played for half a season.
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 11:23pm
Buffon is world class. Even the top keepers make mistakes from time to time. Form is temporary class is permanent. I love him. Buffon and Baggio are my favourite ever. Great men on and off the field. I think bardi and leali are the future. Marchetti is a good keeper. Sirigu is very overated. Not a fan of viviano or perin. Like consigli also. Forza gigi. Praying gigi lifts wc next year.
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 9:30pm
Also, he played a massive factor in the careers of his defensive lines standing in front of him over the years , from bennarivo to maldini, from nesta to cannavaro and even the likes of thuram at parma and juve, many more and his defence now , it must be a massive psychological booster knowing a god is behind you if all else fails
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 9:06pm
In the words of prandelli " Gigi for eternity". The greatest keeper of all time
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 8:58pm
Maybe just me but I thought Cavani's free kick was up and over the wall and most keepers would have struggled to get to it. What about his double save in extra time. How can anyone say penalty saving ability are crap. Did Casillias save any more than Buffon on the day. Also please can the people knocking him name 5 better keepers in the world at present.
Dino. I would not have started Diamanti as I have not rated him in the past but my opinion has changed since the Uruguay match. Numero Uno GB
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 8:39pm

Gigi ability to save penalties is not crap, you are. I proved that to you before :)

And you officially have nothing left to say about that.

PS: Casillias is overrated, and he isn't and was not anywhere Gigi's league.

Pathetic jackwagon !
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 8:19pm
Mustafaa 100% Bang on the money , Gigi has class ,is the leader and is still a fantastic goalkeeper ,
Boss makes some valid points around Gigi penalty saving skills but he deserves the chance to captain his country next year if his standard remains high. 35 for a goalkeeper isnt old and he is still the best in Italy and one of the best in world. Wouldnt swap him for anyone .Remember J Hart against our penalty takers last year. Dont recall him doing much.Roll on WC 2014 , Italy will be challenge
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 8:07pm
Hes still the best there is...
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 7:30pm
Buffon is a good keeper, perhaps a great keeper, when you consider his career overall. He has a colourful personality as well which gives him charisma. BUT I think buffoon is in between the posts now because Italy has no other choices. Buffon is not the best goal keeper in the world today and I have made this point before, irrespective of Uruguay, his penalty saving ability is crap.

MustuffU, u think Casillias is overrated? Have you taken your medication you prat
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 6:45pm
Italy do not have another world class keeper. There may be a few decent keepers, but none are of the class of Buffon. It would be madness to drop him.
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 6:45pm
Gigi has done enough for italia as it is.He
still has more left in the tank in my opinion.
as far as italia having the odds stacked against
them to win next years World Cup.I think they have
a real good shot on the contrary.

forza italia per sempre.
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 5:13pm
Lets not overrate Buffon here, he isn't nowhere near as good as he used to be. His reflexes are great. but his agility isn't as good as it used to be so he is quite slow getting across. For example that Cavani free kick should not have beat him, and same for the Neymar free kick. His positioning is second to none, but his getting to thing isn't. Saying that, he is still our Number 1 but we need Sirigu and Marchetti to play more games for the nazionale as who will be there to fill Buffon's boots?
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 4:52pm
I cannot Imagine WC 2014 without Gigi in net......when Gigi was injured in WC 2010 and we had Marchetti in net he was a disaster! I don't care how good Sirigu is he's never going to be capable of excelling in front of a 3 man Juve defense. The days of Cannavaro/Nesta on defense are long gone now and yes, our CB's have to be faulted for some of the extra work Gigi does. the problem is who else is there for CB? Ogbonna? Ranocchia? we have a long way to go in develiping future talent.
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 4:46pm
@ Buffon non si tocca

That Spanish number 1 has been leaking since the start of his career. And yet, they compare him to Gigi.

The problem is, those stupid Englishmen don't see anything other than their stupid EPL. They say Hart is the number 1. They don't know that Storari is better their EPL keepers.
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 3:55pm
Since this is the first blog since the Uruguay match I thought I'd throw this out there... Why did it take so long to give Diamanti a start in this tournament???
I believe he is the best Italian attacking midfielder/trequartista. How is it possible that Prandelli thought that it was a better idea to play Marchisio or Montolivo or Cerci in that role ahead of Diamanti?
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 2:11pm
Buffon is the least of the Azzurri problems. Buffon is still one of the best keepers in world football. He is 35 and he has had some serious back problems to deal with. He's no longer at his prime, but that's OK.
I'm more concerned about Pirlo maintaining his high level of play for another year leading up to WC2014.
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 1:59pm
Buffon is still too good to replace. Yes, he was at fault for goals against Brazil and he looked jaded for the Spain pens, but so what? Look how he responded against Uruguay. The guy is a true professional.
I would say, next year's WC should be his last time in an Azzurri shirt, that's for sure, but what a legend and what an incredible career.
You can't teach experience and Italy will need his bellowing commands from the back if they want a shot at winning in Brazil 2014.
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 1:58pm
Buffon is the best keeper in the world..although he did concede a few goals that perhaps he shouldn't of in the confederations cup, Cavani free kick was near enough in the middle of the net, Japan game he looked a bit sluggish. He is getting older but should make the next euro's at least.
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 1:39pm
Buffon is still The Azzurri No1 choice and will be at least until after the World Cup. He made a few poor decisions in recent matches, electing to parry or push clear rather than try to hold onto the ball, but this is a general habit of many top keepers and I often wonder if this is due to the movement of the ball making it far to risky to attempt to catch. I would like CP to try a few of the younger keepers in friendlies in Case GB picks up an injury. Forza Azzurri Grande Buffon
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 1:11pm
buffon=quality. period. i know, just like every other player, there are moments of dropped concentration or not-so-good particular form. i agree, these low moments do happen in ALL players careers. yes, he does have more to give. and just like everything else, we do our best to work through these challenging moments. italy GK situation is the farther from their troubled issues at the current moment in time. a defense is what people should be talking about and needs some work!
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 1:09pm
If the keepers waiting to take his place were as good on their best days as Gigi is on a bad day I wouldnt worry, however their not and all the pundits who claim he is past it would struggle to name 5 better keepers in the world right now. The defence was shaky at best against Japan & Brazil and as he says when a keeper makes a mistake its a goal so it is that much bigger. Still in the worl top 5 no problem.
on the 2nd July, 2013 at 12:51pm

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