Gianluigi Buffon goes over 600 minutes without conceding
Italian celebrates his 100th Juventus Champions League game
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and Kylian Mbappe at Stade Louis II in Monaco. Photograph: PA
Gianluigi Buffon celebrated his 100th Champions League game for Juventus in typical fashion on Wednesday, making a string of brilliant saves in a 2-0 win at Monaco in the first leg of their semi-final.
To pay tribute to the 39-year-old goalkeeper, who has been a Juve stalwart for over 16 years, his club posted a video on Twitter before the game featuring some of his finest moments in the showcase competition.
They could now make it a bit longer with the highlights of his performance against Monaco in which he repeatedly denied the principality team’s dangerous strikers, including teenage striker Kylian Mbappe.
Free-scoring Monaco have netted a massive 146 goals in all competitions this season
“They (Juventus) had two chances and scored two goals, we had many and scored none, that says it all”, said 18-year-old striker Mbappe, who had scored 18 goals in his last 18 competitive games, including three in the 6-3 aggregate win over Borussia Dortmund in the last eight.
Keeping a clean sheet against free-scoring Monaco, who have netted a massive 146 goals in all competitions this season, was no easy task and required a top ‘keeper.
Buffon, who has conceded two goals in this Champions League campaign and gone over 600 minutes without picking the ball out of his net, again proved he was just that, most notably when he tipped a Valere Germain header over his bar in the closing stages.
He was careful, however, not to get carried away.
“We approached the game the way we had to and did what he had to do,” Buffon told BeIN Sports television.
“We do have an advantage but we also know Monaco have excellent players capable of scoring away. It’s not over.”
Arguably the finest goalkeeper of his generation, Buffon has collected plenty of silverware during his illustrious career, winning six Serie A titles with Juve and lifting the World Cup with Italy in 2006.
He has, however, never won the Champions League, losing two finals with Juventus, in 2003 and 2015.
A third final looks pretty close and maybe Juventus will soon be posting another video with more acrobatics from their flying veteran.
The managers' verdict
Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri is also wary of the Monaco team, who will have “nothing to lose” when they visit Turin.
He told La Gazzetta dello Sport: “These lads are having a season which could become something quite extraordinary.
“I must give my compliments to the team following this opening match in Monaco - it was not easy.
“We started well and Gianluigi Buffon made a fine save when it was still 0-0. Then, after our goals, we stayed focused.
“There’s a lot for us to be happy about but in the return leg they will have nothing to lose, and we must be wary.”
I’m really happy with my players. They gave a great impression of French football tonight
Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim, like his counterpart Allegri, made sure to praise Buffon, who rolled back the years to frustrate teenage talent Mbappe.
At his post-match press conference, the Portuguese manager said: “I’m really happy with my players. They gave a great impression of French football tonight.
“Unluckily for us, Buffon made two or three unbelievable saves.”
Monaco can take some comfort from the fact they are in pole position to win the French title. They are three points ahead of Paris St Germain and boast a game in hand, with Nancy their next opponents.
“Nancy will be a key game,” added Jardim. “If we can win there, that will give us motivation to launch a comeback in Turin.”