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1-min read

Buffon confident of maintaining form

Italy' s Gianluigi Buffon established himself as the world's top goalkeeper with match-winning displays in 2006.

test sharma | Associated Press

Updated:May 28, 2010, 1:14 PM IST
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Buffon confident of maintaining form
Italy' s Gianluigi Buffon established himself as the world's top goalkeeper with match-winning displays in 2006.

Sestriere, Italy: Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon established himself as the world's top goalkeeper with match-winning displays at the 2006 World Cup, and he's confident he can have a similar impact in South Africa.

Buffon missed two months of the season with a knee injury, but now feels back to his best.

"I have faith in my ability. To say otherwise would be a lie," Buffon said at Italy's training camp in the Italian Alps. "If the team is united then players can play above themselves."

World champion Italy has friendlies against Mexico and Switzerland before leaving for South Africa, where it will play Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia in group play.

"The match with Paraguay will be the most difficult," he said. "It's a tricky team which will work its socks off and the first match is always difficult. Starting with a win will be important."

Italy is aiming to become the first team to retain the World Cup since Brazil in 1962, but will need to avoid a repetition of the 2009 Confederations Cup when the team crashed out after defeats to Egypt and Brazil.

Nonetheless Buffon is one of nine World Cup winners in Marcello Lippi's 28-man training squad.

"The chances of us winning are less than they were in Germany," Buffon said. "Having won it in 2006 it has become even more difficult to repeat it.

"Even so, we have everything necessary to do well at the World Cup," he said. "Of course to retain the World Cup you need luck in a number of situations. If we do go out, we have to make sure we do so with our heads held high, giving a good image of Italian football."

Buffon has been linked with a move away from Juventus in recent days, but said he was happy to stay at the club, which he joined in 2001.

"I could see that Juventus wanted to keep me and so I decided to stay," he said. "Now the only thing that interests me is the mentality the new players we have. They have to spill blood for the shirt."

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