Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and center-back Leonardo Bonucci spoke before the Champions League Final between the Bianconeri and Barcelona this Saturday. Take a look:
An unexpected bonus
Gianluigi Buffon: "This has been an objective that I've pursued over the last few years with my team-mates and the club. Probably we didn't think that this would be a good year, or the ideal year, for us to reach the final – mainly because we've undergone a great change because we have a new manager. We thought it would take two or three years for us to reach the final. So we've achieved this objective earlier, which is an unexpected but very nice surprise – and we're very happy about it."
Buffon: "Emotions will play an important part. They're going to be a factor in the game for certain, but these two teams are made up of players who are young and less young, but they are all experienced on an international level so we're all able to control ourselves in these situations. I'd imagine at first one of the two sides might take a little while to get into the game, but after the first five or ten minutes we'll see the real teams – and what they've done to deserve getting to the final."
Buffon: "Objectively Barcelona are the favourites because they have great individuals with great ability. It's only fair to say a team with Messi, Suárez and Neymar, and Iniesta in midfield, are the favourites – of course they are when they're lucky enough to have players like that. However, when you meet a team like Juventus with Tévez, Pogba, Marchisio, Bonucci etc, we're not pushovers – we have a chance."
Leonardo Bonucci: "This game cannot be summarised as Barcelona's attack against a strong Juventus defence. We're going to put on a strong team display as we did against Borussia Dortmund [in the round of 16]. That was a turning point for us. That's when we realised we're a great team, and that's why we're here. We got here knowing we're one step below Barcelona but it's a final, one game, so any differences will be reduced. It will be up to us, all 11 of us, to fight for every ball. We're not here to roll over."
Buffon: "You gain experience by playing. [Marc-André ter Stegen's] campaign in the Copa del Rey and the Champions League shows he's already a very reliable goalkeeper; he's confirmed what people were saying about him over the years. When he was at Mönchengladbach he was a very good goalkeeper. I'd seen him play and liked his style; this year he's confirmed that my initial impressions were correct. He's young and I hope he has a long and successful career with many victories – but after this match."
Antonio Conte's Juve legacy
Buffon: "He's certainly going to be watching the game, he's sent us a message which we were happy to receive. Today's Juventus still have some of his touches: that determination he taught us, our tactical know-how and our ability to play well – these are all virtues that we were able to forge over the years working under Mr Conte. I hope it'll take a long time for us to lose those qualities."
The absence of Giorgio Chiellini
Bonucci: "Losing Giorgio Chiellini is a big thing, not just on the pitch but in the dressing room. He'll be here supporting us but his character and determination would have been important for us. But on the other hand, Italian teams traditionally make the best of difficult situations. We come here knowing we're a good team and we're going to do our best to win; we'd dedicate the win to him."
Andrea Barzagli's return from injury
Bonucci: "My style and way of playing is always the same. It doesn't really matter who you're playing alongside, what matters is your characteristics as a player. Mine include something that helps Juventus – I've always been described as a player with character, and I'll aim to show that tomorrow night. Barzagli is one of the best defenders in the world. He's very strong, particularly in one-one-ones, and there's very few like him in the world."
Bonucci: "My son Lorenzo, when I left home this morning, said: 'Dad, where are you going?' 'I'm going to Berlin.' 'Why?' 'I have to play a match, I'm working.' 'But I wanted to go to the beach!' 'Well, we'll have to go to the beach with your mum when I come back after the match.' So I have to make sure I keep that promise."
Buffon: "I have a son who's a great fan of Messi, and the other is a fan of Neymar, so they won't know what to wish for! I think they'll be sad if Juventus lose, because they're Juventus fans – they'd have preferred another team, Real Madrid or Manchester City, in the final."
What victory would mean to Juventus
Buffon: "The fact Juventus have always been represented by great players, and the many trophies the club have won, tells us that we're not here by chance. History says Juventus must always – or almost always – get to at least the semi-finals of this competition. We also feel great responsibility because we know that if things go well we've done something great. But it's almost business as usual for Juventus. If we win I'll be very happy, and hug everyone I see, but a month and a half later we're back to work for the new season. We play for Juventus and we represent the best of Italian clubs – it would be a great achievement to win but in line with our history."