Gianluigi Buffon Deserves No Criticism for Juventus' Defensive Struggles

Danny PenzaSenior Writer IApril 13, 2009

As the frustrating results start to pile up and the championship trophy falls further out of reach, the natural reaction of any fan is to start playing the blame game.

With six goals finding the back of the net against Juventus the past two weeks, fans have decided that one of the main people to blame in all of this, along with manager Claudio Ranieri, is goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Juventus have gone from having one of the best statistical defenses to now, despite their still high ranking, to being one of the most susceptible ones.

And when fans or pundits see three goals going in a game, it's easy to blame the man who defends.

But to blame Buffon is certainly the wrong and uneducated choice.

What these people seem to be missing is that the four players who are in front of the 31-year-old Italian 'keeper, including Giorgio Chiellini, have been anything but impressive as of late.

No matter how skilled Buffon and Chiellini are, the supporting cast around them are simply not the same of years past before Juve got demoted to Serie B.

How many teams that want to be considered a legitimate contender have players like Cristian Molinaro and Jonathan Zebina starting for them as fullbacks?

Compare those two to Juve's biggest competition for the Scudetto, Inter Milan, and it's downright embarrassing. Compare Molinaro and Davide Santon and there really isn't any. One is being called the new Paolo Maldini and the other would barely hack it at other clubs that set their sights at winning the Scudetto.

Throw in somebody in the defense getting what seems like a new injury every week, creating any kind of chemistry as one unit to play the offsides trap that Ranieri continually decides to use even though the defense has been burned by it an incredible amount this season, and having a consistent lineup week after week, and blaming

If you read the press, he hasn't been on top of his game at all since he returned from injury in February. Most tend to forget that in that return to Serie A action against Fiorentina, he was the man who kept Juve in the game and ultimately in the lead for good.

Of course, when you come back from injury, you may not be able to do everything right away. And even though Buffon has been great at times (e.g. his performance against Fiorentina), he's still on the road to being the man everybody envisions him as.

And because of those lofty expectations that few goalkeepers have, if anything less than that happens, people are going to freak out.

The problem is not Buffon, it's the defenders in front of him giving him no support whatsoever.

How many goals have we seen in the past two months and change of Buffon having to deal with a one-on-one situation because a Juve defender got burned and is now trailing the play?

Even the greatest 'keepers in the world need a respectable defense in front of them. A team can't rely on their star in the net to bail them out every time they make a mistake. It's not a good way to survive a season, let alone attempt to win a title.

Until Juventus upgrade the back four, things will be tough. No matter who you have up top scoring goals for you, if you give up goals, you're not going to have a good chance to win.

If that doesn't happen soon, Juventus will be in even more trouble than they are right now. It's hard to imagine things getting any worse defensively, but if things keep going the way they are, that so-called dream will become a reality.