Friday July 1 2016
Buffon: 'Neuer? I'm 38...'

Gigi Buffon shrugged off comparisons to Manuel Neuer and said Italy “want to be even more convincing” against Germany.

The Euro 2016 quarter-final kicks off in Bordeaux on Saturday at 20.00 UK time (19.00 GMT).

“I said that Neuer is better than me, because at the end of the day it could well be true,” said Buffon in a Press conference.

“That isn’t something that diminishes my own career or damages me in any way. I think I know full well what I was, what I am now and what I’ll be over the next two years. I’m very relaxed.

“It would be offensive I think to compare Neuer to a 38-year-old goalkeeper. It seems only normal to say he is proving that he’s an excellent goalkeeper in every sense.”

Italy have been among the surprise packages of Euro 2016 so far, beating Belgium and Spain convincingly.

“So far we’ve been good, now we want to be even more convincing. We’ll need to improve even more if we are to get the chance to go forward and continue dreaming.

“Seeing the team we’re facing, we all know it will be tough, so strain, sweat and physical and emotional stress will be to the point of exasperation. We know all that and that’s already a good way to prepare for this game.”

Some of the German players are familiar to Italy, particularly Fiorentina-owned Mario Gomez and Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira.

“The fact we know Gomes is helpful, just as it was when preparing to face Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Sweden or Alvaro Morata for Spain.

“However, there are so many variables at play that it can’t mean that much. At times, knowledge isn’t enough to peg back talent or creativity.”

Buffon was in goal when Italy beat Germany at the 2006 World Cup, Euro 2012 and now Euro 2016.

“They are three different experiences. In 2006 there was more anxiety, as it was a World Cup semi-final against the hosts. We also had more sense of responsibility to make Italian immigrants in Germany proud, so that made it very tense.

“In 2012 we started out as underdogs and knew we needed something special to earn the Final. There are certainly plenty of analogies with the current Euros, although on paper the gap between us has grown, as they have since become World Champions.

“When you reach the midway stage of a tournament like this, having beaten Belgium, Sweden and Spain, the belief certainly grows and we can’t lose sight of that.”

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