If Napoli managed just one shot on target throughout the 93 minutes of Juve’s crucial win on Saturday evening, deductions that Gigi Buffon and his defence had enjoyed another fine day at the office would seem to be fair ones to make.
Indeed, Buffon excelled once more between the sticks to stop Raul Albiol’s point-blank header, Leonardo Bonucci’s last-gasp lunge denied Gonzalo Higuain a clear goalscoring opportunity and Andrea Barzagli made many a key intervention to keep the division’s most attacking unit quiet for the majority of the night.
Praise was therefore forthcoming from Juve’s captain for the men above that have played a major role in a seventh Serie A clean sheet of 2016.
“With regard to Barza, I’d be tempted to rip up his identity card. Even if he’s 35 years of age, I’d never hesitate once about playing him in the most important match of the season so far. The same goes for Leo and Giorgio, who complete what is a truly formidable and tight-knit department of our team.
“I’m fortunate to be playing just behind a group of incredibly talented defenders, who are, of course, helped by the hard work put in by the midfielders and strikers in front of them.”
Endless endeavour was a common theme of tonight’s win and Buffon had few doubts as to the importance of a result that sees them claim top spot in the league for the first time this season.
“With a quarter of an hour remaining, we really had to dig deep. A draw would not have been a bad outcome, but I always kept hope that a magical spark from somewhere could see us take all three points.
“Had we lost tonight, it would have been tough going to claw our way back. Needless to say, there are still 13 matches to go and plenty of opportunities for twists and turns over the remainder of the campaign.”