Even the best have their struggles.
For Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, his 2008-09 campaign was filled with a number in storylines that went along with his team’s inconsistent finish to the season. Not only did Buffon essentially miss the entire first half of the season, but also upon his return, the Juve defense was completely inconsistent.
As a result, many so-called experts in the press began to say that because of the injuries and the higher-than-usual goals against average, that Buffon was starting to head into the twilight of his career.
There, of course, were the rumors that the Juve board was debating whether to sell the living legend while his stock was still high enough to turn a significant profit.
The rumors were just that—rumors. Typical Italian media speculating that one of the world’s best players was starting to hit the wall and that his extended absence was a sign of things to come.
Fact is that if the Juve board were to sell the beloved Buffon, they would have had to be absolutely blown away by the offer. They were not going to sell Buffon just to sell him.
And it's good they didn't because Buffon is back to being the Buffon of old that we came to know as the world's best.
His performances thus far, both for club and country, have been vintage Buffon. Juventus have allowed just one goal, away to Roma, in their first four games of the season and much of it is because Buffon has been in complete sensational form.
His Man of the Match showing this past Saturday at the Stadio Olimpico against Livorno just shows that a fully healthy Buffon is the best in the business. He made a crucial save just four minutes in and then continued making class saves after Juve went ahead thanks to Vincenzo Iaquinta.
In a match where the Old Lady were facing a team that is going to be in a fight to stay out of the drop zone all season long, the reworked defense was anything but impressive.
The 31-year-old Buffon was the reason why Juve beat Livorno Saturday night and why they’re a perfect 4-for-4 so far this season and there’s no denying that.
Whether it’s a point-blank one-on-one denial of Francesco Totti or a mind-boggling flying save just inches in front of the goal line against Bulgaria in World Cup qualifying, Buffon is proving what he can do when he’s in a zone that none other come close to.
But with Buffon it’s, once again, becoming a regular thing. Spectacular saves this season, whether it’s for the Old Lady or the Azzurri, are becoming a regular occurrence.
Though it sure must be nice for the defenders to know that if they mess up, they have Buffon between the pipes stopping everything in sight.
If Juve want to continue to challenge on three fronts like Ciro Ferrara has demanded from his team, Buffon, but more so the defense, will have to keep getting better. The biggest concern coming into the season was how the defense would perform and so far, it has been better than expected as a whole.
There of course will be a lapse or two, that’s understandable, but when the regular four starters are in there, things haven’t been as bad as we thought they might be. The evidence is there in the three clean sheets are there is no denying that they haven’t been earned.
Standing above every defender and the main reason why there are those three cleans sheets is the man playing in goal.
Buffon may say he's not doing anything special like he did after the Livorno win, but to us followers, we see it a little differently.
Maybe it doesn't seem like anything special when you have done it so often.
The man is 100 percent once again and we’re just enjoying the show.