Buffon: One cap too many?
It seems that goalkeepers are near-immune to criticism of age and remain on the pitch far longer than the average outfielder. According to die-hard Chelsea fan, Toby Close: “Goalkeepers age […]
It seems that goalkeepers are near-immune to criticism of age and remain on the pitch far longer than the average outfielder. According to die-hard Chelsea fan, Toby Close: “Goalkeepers age like a fine mature cheddar.” I’m not convinced.
In the build up to yesterday’s clash between Juventus and Bayern Munich, two all-star teams no doubt, I stumbled across this video, which went viral after a Juve supporter posted it on the team’s fan page:
I am huge fan of Juventus and took absolute delight in watching this clip – despite the fact that it’s been re-used more times than a needle in a crack den – but last night the Series A leaders took a 2-0 battering at the hands of Bayern, leaving Antonio Conte, Turin and most of Italy in comatose state. Commentators were fast to throw around phrases such as “outclassed”, “different game” and “the Italians are lazy”, but our friends at the BBC looked at the root of the loss and rightfully pointed their fingers at Gianluigi Buffon, the captain of the apparently “impenetrable” Bianconeri.
Buffon is and always will be a goalkeeping Legend. World Cup winner; nine-time Serie A keeper of the year; winner of the 2006 Yashin Award – the equivalent of the Ballon d’Or of keeping – and the list continues for pages more. He has been with La Vecchia Signora for almost 12 years and with the Italian national team for 16, enjoying many highs and few lows. Last night’s performance echoes more with the latter. First allowing David Alaba’s 35-yard shot to skid past inside the minute mark, then charging at Mario Mandzukic and leaving the goal exposed – Thomas Mueller tapped home a shot that even the worst FIFA player wouldn’t miss.
Riddled with back problems and in recent times questioned over his fitness, Buffon’s past four years have been turbulent. It seems the mentality managers have is to bring back or maintain top-class goalkeepers well into their late 30s and ealy 40s, forgetting that simply because a goalie does not need to run like a horse for 90 minutes does not mean he can play like he did ten years ago. It’s true, some of the best goalkeepers in the world right now are in their mid-to-late 30s – experienced, strong, wise – but I often think some of them don’t know when to throw in the towel. Young, talanted goalkeepers are constantly being overlooked and criticized for initial errors; older goalkeepers get chance after chance simply because they were all-stars in the previous decade. Remember Liverpool hero and Champions League winner Jerzy Dudek? In 2007 at the age of 34 he decided to make a move to Real Madrid; he sat on the bench for 4 years, making only two appearances.
Bayern Munich will be travelling to Turin for the second leg of the quarter-finals and Juventus will have to work a miracle if they are to manage to claw back any chance of victory. The question is, how will Buffon fare?