Gigi Buffon has echoed the thoughts of Antonio Conte in viewing the Bianconeri’s upcoming semi-final double header with Benfica as a significant test – but insists the team’s desire to make a triumphant return to Juventus Stadium on 14 May means they will be going all out to make that dream a reality.
Speaking to the media in Lisbon, the Bianconeri captain began: “We’ve got full respect for Benfica. They approach this year’s Europa League off the back of the final they undeservedly lost against Chelsea last term. They’ve got all it takes to cause us problems tomorrow night.”
“Tomorrow will be a good test, also for those who already have significant European experience, because Benfica v Juventus is essentially a Champions League clash.”
Juventus have yet to concede on their travels in this season’s Europa League and, buoyed by three consecutive Serie A clean sheets, Buffon is hoping further defensive resilience will be on display when he leads the team out in the lion’s den of the Estadio da Luz tomorrow night.
But he appreciates that the dangers posed by a Benfica side boasting quality in all departments will make for a stern test of the Bianconeri’s mettle.
“As a goalkeeper I usually focus on the strikers, the players who risk ruining my evening. With the likes of Cardozo, Lima, their wingers and Luisao, who, despite being a defender, is always dangerous when he ventures forward, Benfica have plenty of quality in attack and can count on a style of play that brings out the best in their individuals.”
With a long season entering its final straight on both domestic and European fronts, Buffon took the opportunity to reiterate just how important it is for the club to book their place for what would be a special night on home soil.
He added: “Contesting the final at Juventus Stadium is an opportunity, seeing as it’s unusual to have the possibility of playing such occasions at your own home. It matters a lot for us to be there, but it’s still in the distance. There are two difficult games remaining against a side who will give everything they’ve got to be in Turin.”