Gigi Buffon believes a win in the big match between Lazio and Juventus would serve as an added boost for the high-flying Bianconeri. “In terms of the league, in the long run, Saturday night’s result will decide very little,” explained the goalkeeper during this afternoon’s interview on Juventus Channel. “However it would lift our morale for the rest of the championship.” 

 The game against the Biancocelesti will see Gigi come up against in-form Miroslav Klose, with the German striker currently enjoying a purple patch in front of goal: “He’s one of the few strikers, in the fullest sense of the term, that’s still around. I’ve always appreciated his goalscoring abilities, but seeing him in Italian football has enabled me to notice his other qualities: technique, speed and shrewdness.”And following the clash at the Stadio Olimpico, the Bianconeri are immediately back in action at the San Paolo: “They’re not the easiest games in the championship, but we’re focused and couldn’t be anything else under our manager. We understand the importance of these two fixtures. They’re two important tests, in which we’ll fight tooth and nail.” 

 Buffon has been in fine form this season and it appears his lengthy spell on the sidelines is well and truly behind him. After picking up an injury in the World Cup, the subsequent operation and long road back to recovery, the goalkeeper is now reaping the rewards of his hard work: “The secret is to always challenge your own attitudes and know that if you have the basics, the determination and the desire to write more important history, you can do it. All of this requires you to make sacrifices, but it’s worth it.” 

The Bianconeri number one is also looking in great shape: “I’ve lost four or five kilos. I don’t know how much it helps me, because in the last ten years I’ve always weighed 93, 94 kilos and now I’m 88, 89. I feel good, but I believe that the real reason behind getting back to my usual levels is that I’ve had the opportunity to train daily without being constrained, which has also liberated me psychologically speaking.” 

 Juventus have shown defensive resilience so far this season and proved clinical in front of goal. A perfect combination which, according to Buffon, is down to the whole team: “If we’re conceding few goals it’s because the defensive aspects of the team are working well. And that starts from the strikers who this year, alongside the midfielders, are giving us a big hand. We currently have one of the strongest midfields in Europe: we can count on Marchisio who’s in blinding form, on Pirlo, who’s the best a team could have in that role, and on Vidal, who’s the true revelation of this championship. He fights for every ball, he’s always there in every situation… He’s one of those players who would have found a spot even at the time when Juve were at their peak. The quality’s improved with respect to last year and we’re having less injury problems. And then the manager’s style of play gives us great aggression and this provides awareness. When you have such a passionate manager, he manages to bring across his desire and anger.” 

 Buffon recently equalled Dino Zoff’s 112 appearances with the Italian team and his appearance in last week’s friendly against Uruguay saw him enter into an exclusive club: “It’s something that fills me with pride. He’s part of that small category of ‘established giants’ in football. Going alongside him in such a prestigious group was a great feeling.” 

 And shortly before receiving the prestigious honour in Rome, Buffon delivered a powerful speech in front of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano. The goalkeepers said the words came “from various reflections I’ve made over the past few months. I felt compelled to do so, because aside from the greetings and giving thanks to our President, I felt that I should bring another message. We’re all Italian citizens and if there’s something that we believe we could do for our nation then it’s right to point it out. I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world and Italy is without question the most beautiful country. It could just live from tourism, but there are many other problems which are currently holding us back. However I’m confident about the future.”