Gianluigi Buffon has won no shortage of silverware over his stellar career but a UEFA Champions League winners' medal is conspicuous by its absence – could this finally be his year?
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Gianluigi Buffon has had a memorable UEFA Champions League campaign. Nine games in and he has conceded only twice: could this be the year he finally gets his hands on the one major club trophy missing from his impressive collection?
"There are three games left," the 39-year-old said after his fourth consecutive clean sheet in the competition helped Juventus complete a 3-0 aggregate win in Barcelona. "And three games of a very high standard. There's great balance between the four teams still competing for the trophy."
Keeping Barcelona's feared attack at bay for 180 minutes is certainly a good sign for Juventus, who gained a measure of revenge for the 2015 final defeat – the second time Buffon finished runners-up. "We have probably been on the right path ever since that defeat," the Italy goalkeeper continued. "We are more mature now and approach important games like these with more confidence.
"I genuinely thought we had a great chance after the 3-0 victory but even I didn't think we would have left Barcelona without conceding a goal – when you come here and face a team and attackers like these, you always think there could be one or two goals. We were very strong."
Massimiliano Allegri, ten years his goalkeeper's senior, agreed with that assessment. "It's a step forward, we deserved qualification against what is a top opponent," confirmed the coach. "We did very well defensively, less so in attack because we failed to make the most of what were very promising counterattack; we missed some easy passes.
“Barcelona failing to score goals over two legs is almost unheard of," continued Allegri, who finished the game with the 'BBC' in defence after replacing a tired Paulo Dybala with veteran defender Andrea Barzagli. "When Andrea came on it felt like we could've played for a whole day and not conceded!"