Buffon faces tough test against Barcelona's awesome troika

Buffon faces tough test against Barcelona's awesome troika

Gianluigi Buffon remembers only too well the pain of losing a Champions League final, but the legendary Juventus goalkeeper is hoping a return to Berlin's Olympiastadion brings happier memories against Barcelona on Saturday.

"We can't go there (Berlin) to make up the numbers. This match means far too much to us," said Buffon, whose exploits for Juventus and Italy over two decades have hoisted the 37-year-old up among the sport's greatest goalkeepers. Along with Italy and Juventus team-mates Andrea Pirlo and Andrea Barzagli, Buffon has fond memories of Berlin's Olympiastadion -- the scene of Italy's controversial World Cup victory over France in 2006 when Zinedine Zidane saw red in the final.But reaching another Champions League was always just a dream.

"In my head I never had any doubts through these nine years, although at one point I had a serious injury, but I knew I wanted to get to the Champions League final," Buffon said.

"We need to take the last step, and most difficult step." For Buffon, it could be now or never but the prospect of trying to stop Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar -- who have scored 120 goals between them this season -- is a challenge that seems to be growing on Juventus. For striker Carlos Tevez, much of that confidence comes from the assured head and broad shoulders of Buffon. "Having him in goal gives us outfield players confidence," said Tevez. 

"Scoring a goal against Gigi is difficult - that is the extra bit of security he provides." With 20 years of top level experience and a room full of trophies and personal accolades, Juventus -- Italy's most successful side in Serie A -- would not expect anything less.

Since he decided to swap a role in defence and donned goalkeeping gloves at the age of 12, Buffon has been a phenomenon. 

But Buffon, for one, believes the Turin giants have what it takes to cause an upset. "I think we have to realise that on Saturday we're facing the challenge of beating the best team in the world," he said.  

"We have to be prepared, mentally, to suffer, and to have the strength to overcome any obstacles that come our way in this final. Messi is an extra-terrestrial ... but we have what it takes to limit Messi, and the rest. We won't start as favourites, but we have a few things up our sleeves that won't make it easy for them." 

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