Saturday September 7 2013
Berlin veterans save Italy

Italy moved a step closer to the 2014 World Cup thanks to two stars of the 2006 tournament, says Susy Campanale.

The Azzurri have the chance to make history on Tuesday against the Czech Republic. A win would mean Italy book their ticket to the World Cup in Brazil, securing qualification with two rounds to spare – something the Nazionale has never previously achieved. It wasn’t always pretty, but September fixtures rarely are, especially when players like Mario Balotelli, Dani Osvaldo and Riccardo Montolivo are suspended. The credit goes to two men: Alberto Gilardino and Gigi Buffon.

It was a night for the Old Guard in Palermo, as 31-year-old Gila silenced his critics with a well-taken header and 35-year-old Buffon put in one of the best goalkeeping performances of his glittering career. Is it a coincidence these two players also won the World Cup in 2006? Cesare Prandelli doesn’t think so. “When Gila runs out of energy, he keeps going, as that is what a World Cup winner and a Nazionale player has to do. He knows how to suffer and feels no fear.”

Nobody ever said Gilardino should be first choice for Italy, but as a valid alternative to the fiery Balotelli and Osvaldo he’s just the ticket. We’ve already seen this term that veterans like Luca Toni still have much to give, while nobody is more consistent in front of goal over the last few years than Antonio Di Natale.

It was really Buffon’s night in Palermo and boy did he deserve that. For months we’ve listened to armchair pundits complain Gigi has ‘lost it’ and ‘can’t get down quick enough’ to block shots. A sprightly kitten couldn’t have reacted quicker to those Bulgaria efforts from point-blank range. He was simply magnificent and his post-match comments only reiterated his position as a true captain, both on and off the field. We’ve recently seen Manuel Neuer and Joe Hart commit howlers, so I say Buffon is still up there as the best goalkeeper in the world.

All of Italy now waits for Tuesday night, when Buffon can match Fabio Cannavaro’s all-time record of 136 Italy caps, secure World Cup qualification historically early and soak up the praise from his very own Juventus Stadium crowd. There’s plenty of life in the old dogs yet.

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Have your say...
The current bunch have a lot to learn from Buffon and Gila. Starting with modesty.
on the 10th September, 2013 at 9:06pm
Gilardino and rossi shouldnt even be in the same sentence!!! Rossi won us the world cup. Each of the 20 goals he scored won us the game, he was a stricker who player less games and in an era where defence at international level and club levels were tighter stronger and more organised. Gilardino scores from the bench when italy when the games already won. The goal on friday could have been scored by rossi even at his age now. Please dont insult us with this gilardino nonsense!!!
on the 9th September, 2013 at 11:16am
Theres 2 anonymous' on here. I hate gilardino, hes useless. The quicker we rid ourselves of him the better. Anyone could have scored that goal on friday wasnt exactly difficult ANY striker would have been in the same position, did you see the other chances he had which he missed?? He missed them bcoz they required a player with energy imagination and technical ability all the qualities gila doesnt have, we didnt win the world cup bcoz of him wed have gone out in groups if we had to rely on him!
on the 8th September, 2013 at 8:09pm
Poor performance from the team, where nerves, lapses in concentration, & a lack of intensity were all apparent. Buffon saved us, just like he did in our previous qualifier vs the Czech's. I am sick & tired of people saying "Italy always struggle in Aug/Sept". Why aren't other countries saying the same thing, why is this issue exclusive to us? Perhaps CP should hire a sports psychologist or the FIGC should start the season earlier to aid match-fitness.
on the 8th September, 2013 at 2:14pm
to shut up all the haters, gilardino is world class. why?! because gilardino won a world cup. because he has scored at a world cup. he has played many matches for the azzurri and has scored for the azzurri. he plays regularly in an extremely tough league like serie a, and scores. give credit where credit is do people. nothing will change those facts, even if you have a personal dislike for him. he did what he was called to do, and that was to score. those are his contributions.
on the 8th September, 2013 at 12:43pm
And your going way overboard about Gilardino as well, yea he's not the best first choice striker and not world class but he is not that bad there has been worse giovinco is really pathetic. He scored a goal in 06 at the World Cup which is a great personal achievement and he was on the team. Also he is a goal away from marking even with Paolo Rossi goal tally with Italy I would say the is also a great accomplishment. Is he great, by no means but is he horrible, nope far from it.
on the 8th September, 2013 at 6:47am
Anonymous "I don't know why everyone rides him after one good performance"referring to Buffon.listen man how can you not stand behind this guy after all he accomplished and gave to his people your taking about who ride him it's because we respect him and are grateful,appreciative, and will never forget what he has done for la Nazionale he's an azzurri icon and about to very soon the most capped italian to play for Italy. Buffon is historical and will always be number one until the end
on the 8th September, 2013 at 6:27am
Gigi has nothing to prove to anybody. He is by far the best goalkeeper of his generation and, for me, the greatest goalkeeper who has ever played the game.
on the 8th September, 2013 at 2:39am
Lets be honest. When Rossi and Balo are fit Gila will not start. Even Osvaldo offers more. Not saying that Gila isn't useful, but I don't think he will start against high profile teams at the WC.

1 more win and then we can see some Prandelli experiments! I personally would like to see an Italy w/o Pirlo... In case he is ever unavailable.
on the 8th September, 2013 at 2:22am
Buffon remains the best keeper in the business , and Italy are fortunate to have such a charismatic captain.
on the 7th September, 2013 at 5:50pm
Gilardino should not have started but why complain he scored he winner. Chances are he will not start against the Czechs but he did what was required on Friday. I also thought that Gilardino was not the worse Italian player in the match, As for Gigi I was annoyed in he summer with everyone who said he was past it and stand by him. There is certainly no one at present to challenge his position.
on the 7th September, 2013 at 4:48pm
To be brutally honest anyone could have scored that goal. Gilardino is a scam artist. Hes the only player I know hat sweats by doing nothing!!! I see everyone running around like mad men and he sweats!!!! It doesnt make sence.
on the 7th September, 2013 at 3:59pm
Buffon played outstanding just like in the penalty kicks against Uruguay for the Confederation Cup. I don't know why Prandelli didn't play Diamnti? Also, where is Domenic Crisito? Giovinco is another player that should be out there. They also need to get Totti out there. He's a great player that can still keep up with the younger players. Also, he will bring leadership, experience and more confidence to the team. It's also time to bring Rossi up.
on the 7th September, 2013 at 3:07pm
I find it very difficult to share the optimism of some of you. Gilardino scoring was the worse possible thing to happen to italy coz its another excuse to keep the waste of space in the circle. He is at best the worst player in the history if italian football. He realy is useless. How are we ever going to move forward if we keep bringing him with us!!! Injuries or not this is a catastrophic goal which we will pay for if prandelli doesnt stop this love affair, hes beyond crap
on the 7th September, 2013 at 2:40pm
The point blank save was one of the best saves I've ever seen. The Bulgaria player couldn't believe it. Absolutely stunning save. Gigi is the best!

Though, why do Italy let teams in behind like that all too often it seems. I'd like to see the 3-5-2 introduced against other teams not just Spain. Insigne is a star in the making and look forward to him playing more. Giaccherini was very wasteful with his final ball, hope he improves with more playing time at Sunderland.

Forza Azzurri
on the 7th September, 2013 at 2:22pm
Stop overrating buffon. A good performance and everyone's like buffon has returned to his prime and is head and shoulders above everyone. Nowadays sadly he has more bad performances than good ones, imo marchetti should be given a chance. Buffon has good reflexes but is slow at getting to ground and is inconsistent. Honestly don't know why everyone rides him after one good performance. Really annoying
on the 7th September, 2013 at 1:44pm
Gigi's legend keeps on going. He's simply the best as I have never doubted him. Insigne looked great and showed he can play a big role in brasil. Gila is apart of are 06 triumph and I know he has never reached his expectations but he would be good off the bench striker in brasil of course Rossi Balo and di Natale and Insigne first choice. If we qualify against the Czechs Prandelli needs to call some new players up a good handful because there are still quite a few mis- fits in this current squad
on the 7th September, 2013 at 1:17pm
susy, the great photograph you picked to show at the top of your article says it all!!!
the photo speaks THOUSANDS of words!!!
on the 7th September, 2013 at 12:42pm
I am so happy to see Gigi Buffon become the most capped player for the Azzurri. He has had a splendid but torrid international career. I surely missed him during EURO2000 that Francesco Toldo ablely deputised. Wish him all the best against the Czechs in front of his home crowd in Turin.
on the 7th September, 2013 at 11:53am
Gigi..a father,an athlete,an icon.
Earh vs the Universe,& Gigi will captain my side
I am a viola fan and Juve happens to be my rival,but the joy in my heart is never hidden when I see Gigi performing miracles.Viola has two 35yrs old keepers & I still thot we needed someone in the frame of Sommer,reasons being they're too old.but at a similar age I consider Gigi very young.his reflex is soo 28yrs old..rather than lash out at the defenders,his smile after a save,satisfying and!
on the 7th September, 2013 at 11:43am
Not a great performance, but this is to be expected at this early stage in the season. But the important thing is we got 3 points and extended our lead in the group. Buffon was sublime, and like Sam De Martino said, Buffon does his talking on the field. Forza ragazzi!
on the 7th September, 2013 at 10:59am
Shame about the under 21s. Di Biagio has a lot of work to do,would love to see Bardi get a call up to full squad. He is a top keeper and Gigi s heir for me. If we beat the Czechs then Cesare can use the last 2 qualifers to test out tactics and certain players. Would like to see Bardi and Roncaglia called for October games if we beat the Czechs. I would love it if we didn't always have to suffer watching Italy. Its the same old we never score enough goals and playing 4 in defense doesn't work
on the 7th September, 2013 at 10:41am
I still wonder why some stupid critics compare the likes of Neuer, Hart, Casillias (who made howlers consistently through their careers)to Gigi. Get it to your mind, Gigi is Super and no one ever has matched him. Even in Gigi bad matches, they still below him.

Gigi had, has been and always will be the best.
on the 7th September, 2013 at 10:37am
A dire performance. I am not a Gila fan but fair play he scored, although he should have scored more. Rossi, Cassano, Di Natale, Balo, Osvaldo, SES and Monty where all big misses last night. We must play 3 at the back all the time or continue to be exposed. Please Pasqual has been called and De Silvestri, shame about Abate and Antonelli. We need goals and a good win with the Czechs to seal it. Gigi we love you, what a performance. Champions respond. Gigi does his talking on the field.
on the 7th September, 2013 at 10:35am

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