Gigi Buffon urged Italy to replicate the “passion and desire” that allowed them to beat Spain at Euro 2016 and joked about his “sell-by-date.”
The World Cup qualifier kicks off at the Juventus Stadium in Turin tomorrow at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT).
“I don’t have a clear memory of the Euro 2016 meeting, as I cannot yet have that mental clarity to see it without the adrenaline attached,” said Buffon in a Press conference.
“We played in a very sprightly fashion, as a team that wanted to get the result at all costs. We must do the same tomorrow, as it is essential to have that type of passion and desire.
Spain will certainly be wounded by the memories of that Euros match and fired up, as they are in a new era, but the fact is so are we. That victory must not make us feel arrogant, as we need to keep our feet firmly on the ground and remember the humility that allowed us to win that game.
“The mental approach to the test, giving our heart and soul, is what got us the victory. We are a year and a half off the World Cup itself, but must have the clarity to realise how much this game is worth now. It won’t be decisive, certainly, but can help us measure our current status.”
How does Buffon feel about the fact Iker Casillas isn’t in the Spain squad anymore?
“It does seem very strange, but is also a sign that I can see too... That we are reaching our sell-by-date,” laughed the goalkeeper.
“We’re reaching the end of our careers, as is only normal, but I take it well. I know this is the life of a sportsman and as long as I can, I’m going to enjoy it as a protagonist. After that, I’ll be a spectator.
“Precisely because there isn’t much left for me, I want to focus exclusively on what is best for the team. I don’t want regrets and feel I can still improve. This is the only way I know to be happy.”
Alvaro Morata could be facing his former Juventus teammates tomorrow evening, though Spanish reports suggest Diego Costa will start.
“If Alvaro doesn’t play, I will to a certain degree be happy, as in important games he always manages to give that decisive swipe. If he is not there, then someone else will play who’ll undoubtedly be among the best strikers in Europe.
“Diego Costa was absent in Paris and Chiellini will be absent tomorrow, but there are another 10 players in each team. If we consider ourselves a team in every respect, it means we have important players who are not irreplaceable. The growth process also goes through these moments of difficulty.”