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Buffon steers Italy in right direction

Published: Sunday 22 June 2008, 13.00CET
They may be underdogs but Italy's Gianluigi Buffon is unbowed: "In games like these everyone has to pull in the same direction and in this we are second to none."
by Richard Aikman
from Vienna
Buffon steers Italy in right direction
Gianluigi Buffon believes Italy have the mental fortitude to prevail ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

SpainItaly

Goals scored12
 
3
Total attempts117
 
53
Attempts on target51
 
17
Attempts off target47
 
29
Attempts blocked0
 
0
Attempts against woodwork3
 
1
Corners35
 
23
Offsides15
 
15
Yellow cards8
 
9
Red Cards0
 
0
Fouls committed114
 
70
Fouls suffered116
 
79

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Published: Sunday 22 June 2008, 13.00CET

Buffon steers Italy in right direction

They may be underdogs but Italy's Gianluigi Buffon is unbowed: "In games like these everyone has to pull in the same direction and in this we are second to none."

Having played a crucial part in Italy's progress to the UEFA EURO 2008™ quarter-finals, Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is once again expecting to be kept busy against Spain in Vienna. But while the Iberians are narrow favourites to go through to the last four, the Azzurri No1 is relishing the fact that "our fate lies in our hands".

'Fate'
Buffon came to Italy's rescue when saving an 81st-minute penalty against Romania in their second game in Group C, before producing another fine display on Tuesday when they edged past France and into the knockout phase. Had the Netherlands lost to Romania it would have been irrelevant – they would have been eliminated. "Last week we also had to keep an eye on what was happening in the other match," said Buffon. "Now though, our fate lies in our own hands. That's important. I'm not saying that we're going to win but we won't disappoint." Italy failed to shine the last time the sides met in a friendly at the end of March in Elche, the goalkeeper unable to keep out David Villa's stunning second-half strike. Buffon insists it will have no bearing on their meeting on Sunday, though, explaining: "That match doesn't count because I think we played better than them on the night. We gave them far more problems than they did us and this game will be a completely different affair. It is a match that means a lot.

Dual threat
When Villa played alongside Fernando Torres that March night, their partnership was still in the early stages, the pair fumbling to get on the same wavelength. They have clicked in Austria and Switzerland, however, registering five goals between them – some cause for concern for Buffon and Italy. "Those two are deadly and I'll probably have them in front of me more than their team-mates," said the Juventus stalwart. "But they're not the only ones that can hurt us because the midfield also boasts plenty of quality players that can cause problems with long shots." Rubén de la Red and Cesc Fàbregas each struck goals from midfield as Spain claimed three straight victories in Group D, a run that allowed Luis Aragonés to rest ten players against Greece on Wednesday. Yet Buffon does not consider that the extra rest will be a factor. "Determination, pride, teamwork – that's what counts," he concluded. "In matches like these everyone has to pull in the same direction and in this respect we are second to none. When we have got results in the past it's down to that."

Last updated: 22/06/08 22.08CET

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