Juventus’ Gianluigi Buffon on Real Madrid: ‘No team is invincible’
Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon says that “no team is invincible” but reigning European champions Real Madrid go into their Champions League quarterfinal as favourites.
Madrid have won three of the last four Champions League trophies, including last season, when they easily beat Juventus 4-1 in the final to become the first team to retain the trophy in the modern era.
However, Juve have historically the better record against Madrid in knockout ties, having won all four of the most recent two-legged meetings between the clubs — most recently 3-2 on aggregate in the 2014-15 Champions League semifinals.
The veteran goalkeeper told Marca ahead of Tuesday’s first leg in Turin that while Madrid were favourites, his side were also a “great team” and had just as good a chance to progress to the semis.
“No team is invincible,” Buffon said. “They are a very difficult side to beat. Real Madrid might be favourites, but the tie is at 50-50. We also have to be ambitious. There is history and there is the present, but Juve are also a great team who know how to win trophies.”
Cristiano Ronaldo’s double in last year’s final means he has seven goals in five games for Madrid against Juventus — and Buffon said he admires how Ronaldo had honed his game in recent years to become a “true assassin” in front of goal.
“I have unlimited admiration for Ronaldo, with time he has been able to improve,” Buffon said. “I admire him as he is someone who knows what he is doing and is pragmatic. In these last years he has shown his intelligence. He changed his position, uses less energy than before but is really lethal. In front of goal he is a true assassin. The only other forward with this clarity when finishing was [ex-France and Juve striker David] Trezeguet.”
Buffon also spoke to AS and said the aim was to stay in the tie until the end of the second leg at the Bernabeu on April 11.
“I think of many challenges, many games, some of which have gone well for us despite not being favourites,” he said. “Obviously, some have gone against us, like the final in Cardiff. We know that Madrid are the best team in the world, winning the Champions League the last two years, which nobody had done. Our hope is to still be alive until the last minute of the second leg.
After getting to half-time at 1-1 in last year’s final, Juve were steamrolled in the second half, and Buffon suggested that overconfidence ahead of the game had hurt them.
“Three hundred days ago I was 39, and now I am 40, so psychologically it’s a big change,” he said. “We went to Cardiff very confident, maybe too confident, and that could be the first and most serious mistake we made in that final.
“But I do not reproach myself. The stronger team on the pitch deservedly won the game. I hope Juventus find more weapons to balance the meeting more this time.”