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Buffon: Anything's possible
Published : 18 Sep 2012 19:39:00Rss feed
Gianluigi Buffon has played down Juventus' lack of Champions League experience and claimed Chelsea's triumph proves anything is possible.
Juve return to Europe's premier club competition for the first time since 2009 when they take on last season's surprise winners at Stamford Bridge.
It will also be only the third Champions League in seven seasons for the Turin giants, who used to take a place in the competition for granted until the Italian match-fixing scandal consigned them to the wilderness.
But they arrived in London on Tuesday on an incredible 42-game unbeaten run in Serie A, having not lost a single match on their way to last season's title.
And goalkeeper Buffon insisted his team-mates had already proven they were big game players for both club and country.
The Italy star said: "Before Chelsea won the Champions League, in the previous years, they were always the team to beat and they always failed.
"And then, when they started struggling, when they were in a declining phase, that's when they actually won the Champions League.
"What's beautiful about football is that it's not always the team that's considered the stronger one that's actually going to win."
The 34-year-old, who has seen it all at Juve since joining them 11 years ago, added: "Obviously, we're an emerging team at the moment.
"We've got many young players but they're all coming up strongly.
"It's a team that's got a great future and, regardless of the fact that you definitely need experience in the Champions League, we also take into consideration that many of our players have also played international games with their national squad and they've got experience, confidence, and I think you can probably put on the same level playing international games with playing in the Champions League.
"So, in that respect, we think we're at a very good point at the moment."
Buffon helped an unfancied Italy side go all the way to the European Championship final.
Asked if Juve could repeat the feat, he said: "I believe that there are three or four teams that are better than us at this moment, in terms of quality, in terms of players that they've got, in terms of experience.
"But I think we are among four or five teams just behind these three or four and I think what can make the difference sometimes could be the draw, could be certain incidents.
"What is important for us is just being conscious of the fact that we played as much as we could and we were competitive in the end."
Buffon was part of the team Chelsea beat in the last 16 three years ago but he declared Juve were a different prospect under Antonio Conte.
"I think the main difference is the arrival of the new coach and the new technical team," he said.
"We got in this second year better knowledge of this football system, we're also more conscious of what we can do.
"I think, before in Europe, we based our strength on individuality, on single players.
"We had a group of 15, 17, 20 really good players.
"But we also relied on that player who could change the match around.
"Now, I think, we're even more solid as a group. We think of everyone in the same way."
It is not all sweetness and light for a side still engulfed by the match-fixing scandal, with Conte last month hit with a 10-month suspension for his part in the saga.
Juve also have a miserable record in England, having lost eight and drawn three of their last 11 visits, winning only two of 19.
Coach Massimo Carrera, in charge while Conte serves his ban, said: "I'm really happy to be here. We're really proud that we've got the opportunity to face the champions of this competition."
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