Juventus and Buffon have a score to settle against Bayern Munich
Beckenbauer’s comments about goalkeeping great raise Italians’ ire
Juventus' goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon reacts after Thomas Muller scored for Bayern Munich last week. Photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has gone from bumbling pensioner to goalkeeping great in the eyes of Bayern Munich as the Bavarians attempt to make up for last week’s gaffe by honorary president Franz Beckenbauer.
Former West Germany captain and coach Beckenbauer, commenting on the match for German television, criticised 36-year-old Buffon over Bayern’s first goal in the last week’s Champions League quarter-final first leg.
Beckenbauer said Buffon moved like a pensioner after he was caught cold by a long-range shot by David Alaba which took a slight deflection and bounced in front of him as it flew into the net after just 25 seconds.
Bayern, who clinched the Bundesliga title on Saturday with six matches to play, went on to win 2-0.
“Look at his positioning, he seemed like a pensioner,” said Beckenbauer in an off-the-cuff remark during the half-time interval, adding that Alaba shot “from 120 metres away”.
“He should have kept that shot out,” added Beckenbauer. “Perhaps Gigi didn’t think that Alaba would shoot from so far out.”
The comments brought an angry reaction in Italy, and especially at Juventus, where 2006 World Cup-winning goalkeeper Buffon is regarded as almost untouchable.
Beckenbauer later apologised and Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said: “Buffon is one of the greatest and best goalkeepers in football history. When Juventus were in Serie B, he showed himself to be faithful to the team, it was a great gesture.”
Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer added: “He’s a great goalkeeper and the Juventus defence in general is very difficult to get past.”