Gigi Buffon says the Bianconeri’s single mindedness and sheer determination have been the fundamental reasons behind a scintillating run that has taken them to within two points of a third consecutive Scudetto triumph.
Victory over Atalanta in Turin on Monday night would mathematically crown Juventus Champions of Italy, an achievement the captain believes the team would fully merit after being pushed all the way by an unabating Roma.
Speaking to Sky Sport Italia, Buffon said: “It’s inevitable that you’ll run into difficulties when trying to follow up two successful winning campaigns and overcoming them is not a given. But this season we’ve done even better than we did last time around.
“This is also down to having a team like Roma on our tails and, if we’d listened to those who were saying we’d already won the league 10 fixtures ago, we’d now be here talking about a debacle. The credit goes to our manager, who has never conveyed this message, and us, who have never eased off.”
Buffon then went on to identify a couple of moments of the season he felt were crucial to the Bianconeri’s title charge, with a tightly-contested game in Liguria and a Juventus Stadium comeback coming in at the top of the list.
“At the Marassi, against Genoa, we sent out a strong message to the rest of the league, with Pirlo’s magic winning a game that we even went close to losing. At the start of the season our home clash with Verona was important. We fell behind against an enthusiastic, newly promoted side and Tevez’s competitive edge was important to overturn the result. That showed a sign of great determination and eagerness.”
The Bianconeri’s two-year reign as Italian champions means they remain the team everyone wants to beat, a notion confirmed by Buffon when casting his mind back to the beginning of his career with Parma.
“When I played for Parma, the eve of the game against Juventus wasn’t like every other. There was a different feeling surrounding it and each of us gave something extra, as our opponents do today. Our awareness of our strength has enabled us to defeat those in front of us.”
Providing Antonio Conte’s men with this strength at Juventus Stadium are the magnificent home supporters, whose reaction to Thursday night’s Europa League exit was singled out for praise by Buffon.
“Their applause was a tribute, I don’t think just for that game, but for the entire campaign and the two previous years as a whole. It was a way of bringing an unfortunate moment to an end with a thank you. The fans realised that we gave our all to win but weren’t able to.
“Benfica are permanent fixtures in the Champions League and often get to the last 16 or quarter-finals. They’re always a tough team to face. They were both even games, we gave as good as we got but went out, so well done to them.”