Gianluigi Buffon sees a potential Champions League final return in Cardiff in June as the “logical conclusion” to their years of hard work as his generation of players try to finally win the trophy Juventus last won in 1996.
Juventus lost the final 3-1 to Barcelona in Berlin in 2015 but two years on they have even more class and experience under manager Max Allegri. They just need to get past Monaco over two legs, starting at Wednesday night in the Stade Louis II.
Buffon, at 39 years old surely coming towards the end of his career, said that he feels Juventus’ years of success will culminate in this year’s final at the Millennium Stadium. It is a sense of destiny that has informed Juventus’ whole campaign, including their comprehensive quarter-final defeat of Barcelona.
Barcelona 0 Juventus 0 player ratings
Barcelona 0 Juventus 0 player ratings
1/22 Marc-Andre Ter Stegen – 6 out of 10
Up to the task on the few occasions Juventus called him into action, but on the whole had little to contend with.
2/22 Sergi Roberto – 6 out of 10
Attacked with purpose down Barcelona’s right but could not repeat his heroics of the last round.
3/22 Gerard Pique – 6 out of 10
Did well to deny Cuadrado in the first quarter of an hour, but will have hoped to have made a more telling contribution at the other end.
4/22 Samuel Umtiti – 6 out of 10
Another Barca defender who largely coped with what he was tasked to do, but his side’s problems lay up front.
5/22 Jordi Alba – 5 out of 10
Should have connected and scored after Messi’s beautiful lofted pass early on.
6/22 Ivan Rakitic – 5 out of 10
An underwhelming display, with no notable moments of invention on a night when Barca needed his vision and creativity.
7/22 Sergio Busquets – 6 out of 10
Did the simple stuff in the centre of the park, as you might expect, but it would take more than that to break down the Juventus defence.
8/22 Andres Iniesta – 6 out of 10
Showed the most of any Barca midfielder, but that’s not saying much. A devilish first half cross was one of the few to get the better of Chiellini.
9/22 Lionel Messi – 6 out of 10
A few neat touches, but we’ve come to expect so much more. Unusually wasteful in front of goal, the best player in the world had a night to forget.
10/22 Luis Suarez – 5 out of 10
Uncharacteristically quiet. Chiellini successfully shackled his old foe.
11/22 Neymar – 8 out of 10
Barcelona’s best performer, the player most likely to make things happen, but appeared to let his frustration with the officials get the better of him at times.
12/22 Gianluigi Buffon – 6 out of 10
Lucky not to be punished by Messi when he failed to collect a corner. Otherwise, was his usual dependable self.
13/22 Dani Alves – 7 out of 10
His defensive capabilities were doubted in his final days at the Nou Camp, but showed he can still be relied upon here.
14/22 Leonardo Bonucci – 9 out of 10
Chiellini’s equal. Put himself between almost every Barcelona effort and his goal.
15/22 Giorgio Chiellini – 9 out of 10
There is perhaps no other current defender you would want in your side when protecting a three goal lead at the Nou Camp. Predictably excellent.
16/22 Alex Sandro – 6 out of 10
Weakest member of Juventus’ stubborn backline, but still a creditable display. Owes Khedira after the midfielder bailed him out of a failed attempt to nutmeg Suarez.
17/22 Sami Khedira – 7 out of 10
Good defensively, but made the wrong decision while in possession on several occasions when his team were countering.
18/22 Miralem Pjanic – 9 out of 10
Hardly put a foot wrong throughout. Known for his creativity, but put a shift in when his side needed him here.
19/22 Juan Cuadrado – 7 out of 10
Full of running and energy, posed a constant threat down Juventus’ right, but his team-mates failed to make enough use of him.
20/22 Paulo Dybala – 6 out of 10
Did not sparkle like in the first leg but did not have to. Contributed to his side’s dogged rearguard effort.
21/22 Mario Mandzukic – 6 out of 10
Has adapted well to his new left-midfield role, chipping in defensively when required.
22/22 Gonzalo Higuain – 6 out of 10
Had the chance to steal an unlikely lead for the visitors on the half volley early on but fired high.
This Juventus team is packed full of experienced names, including Gonzalo Higuain, Miralem Pjanic and Dani Alves, established players they signed after losing youngsters Paul Pogba and Alvaro Morata, who were involved in 2015. It is a team set up to win the Champions League now, which is what Buffon is hoping will happen.
“Two years ago, when we reached the final against Barcelona, it was unexpected,” Buffon said at his press conference on Tuesday evening. “But this season it would be a logical conclusion to the work we've done, and it's important to keep this in mind.”
There is a stark contrast to be drawn between the Juventus veterans, not just Buffon but Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli too, up against the youthful Monaco side of Kylian Mbappe and Bernardo Silva.
Buffon hopes that will play in Juventus’ favour, but he is full of respect for the young Monaco stars. “Experience will be more in our favour, but Monaco is a young side full of vitality,” Buffon said. “I remember having this great feeling of being indestructible when I was young.”
So Buffon knows that Juve’s defence, the best in Europe, will need to be at their absolute best tonight. “Monaco have scored an avalanche of goals this season,“ he said. ”I have total respect for Monaco and whatever happens tomorrow it will be open for the return leg.”Reuse content