11.05.2016 17:30 - in: The team S

      Barzagli and Buffon: no way past

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      Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon and long-serving defender Andrea Barzagli extend contracts until 2018

      Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Barzagli have today confirmed the extension of their Juventus careers until 2018 in a move that looks set to continue the security of one of Europe's most consistent rearguards that has conceded just 20 league goals this season.

      Two history makers, two Bianconeri legends, two seemingly ageless world-class professionals, here is a tribute to Buffon and Barzagli's achievements since joining the reigning Italian champions in 2001 and 2011 respectively.

      Gianluigi Buffon

      In a campaign that has seen Buffon overtake Gaetano Scirea as the second most capped player in the club’s history, break a Serie A record for minutes without conceding (973) and crown his 20th year as a professional with a fifth consecutive league title, year number 15 of Gigi’s Juventus career now ends with the best possible news: his Juventus journey will go on for another two more. 

      The suggestion that the Juve skipper continues to get better with age has become somewhat of a cliché in the past few seasons but is one that comes with an unshakeable factual base. The 38-year old did not just equal his own personal record set in 2011/12 for clean sheets (21) in a league campaign this term but he did so thanks to some of his most eye-catching performances to date.

      Few goalkeepers could even visualise the save produced against Milan in April’s ultimately decisive 2-1 victory at the San Siro yet alone pull it off and even fewer could bear the weight of a transitioning team as Buffon did in the difficult early months of this season, a feat that deservedly earnt him September’s player of the month.

      What these past ten months of record breaking has shown is that while Buffon has already guaranteed his place in goalkeeping and footballing history, the nine-time Scudetto champion is still one of the greatest of the modern game and will continue to be so until he eventually hangs up his gloves: as it stands, none of Serie A’s current crop can come close to Gianluigi’s total of 17 consecutive shutouts and save to shot ratio of 81 per cent.

      Buffon has kept 264 Serie A clean sheets in his 579 appearances for the club, a rate of almost one of every two matches. 

      Buffon himself has sought to deflect attention away from his own personal landmarks this season but with him standing tall as the Bianconeri’s last line of defence, the game becomes just that more simple for the men in black and white no matter how good the skipper’s protection is.

      The unflinching desire to win, the unprecedented consistency, the unquestioned leadership of the dressing room, there can be no doubting that the pool of superlatives used to describe the legendary stopper will just have to keep growing such is his remarkable longevity.

      Gigi stated on the occasion of his last renewal back in November 2014 that his only hope was that he “could still be an asset, to continue performing at a high level and to be a point of reference for the club.” Two years on and with two more lying in wait, Buffon’s achievement of these humble objectives is beyond question.

      In securing his services until 2018, Juventus have once again placed their future in the safest pair of hands possible. With top-flight appearance number 600 now in sight for Buffon, Juve’s own Superman is far from finished.

      Andrea Barzagli

      The sight of Andrea Barzagli’s name on squad lists alone has sufficed in sowing seeds of doubt among opposition attacks down the years and justifiably so.

      The 35-year-old’s colossal and uncompromising performances on the pitch have made him a key member of Juventus’ record-breaking backline – one which has contributed to 21 clean sheets and conceded only 20 goals this term – just six since the turn of the year.

      Barzagli is quite simply one of the best examples in modern football to anyone looking to learn the ropes in the art of defending. From his brave and robust interventions to a pinpoint positional sense, not to mention heart-stopping goal-line clearances, Juventus fans have been treated to countless eye-catching episodes by a true master of his trade.

      Only one player has taken part in more Serie A clean sheets than Andrea Barzagli (75) since January 2011...defensive colleague Leonardo Bonucci. 

      The fact that such a titanic achievement as that of participating in 75 Serie A clean sheets since joining from Wolfsburg in January 2011 should almost come as little surprise is testament to the sheer consistency with which ‘The Wall’ has graced Juve’s history-making, second Quinquennio side, let alone the rearguard he has helped to make one of the most resolute in Europe.

      In a day and age when forwards more often than not steal the headlines, displays such as Barzagli’s can threaten to drift from the spotlight. Such is the humility of Juventus’ MVP for October, he has always played down any praise to have come his way down the years.

      In many ways, every successful team needs the selfless but talented footballer of Barzagli’s ilk and it is with great delight that the Bianconeri can count upon his services for at least another two years.

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