Who Is Better: Gianluigi Buffon or Manuel Neuer?

Matteo Bonetti@@TheCalcioGuyContributor INovember 11, 2013

Power ranking goalkeepers is one of the trickiest things to do in football, as no statistic can accurately measure their true talent or value to their team.

Italy's Gianluigi Buffon and Germany's Manuel Neuer are widely regarded as the two of the best in the world in their trade, and both have been pillars on teams which have won important trophies.

While Manuel Neuer is eight years younger than the Italian, he certainly doesn't lack experience. At 27, Neuer has already gone to two Champions League finals with Bayern Munich, where he won one of them, and a Euro semi-final.

Gianluigi Buffon was a Champions League runner-up with Juventus as he succumbed to penalties at the hands of bitter rival Milan, but has that 2006 World Cup trophy tied forever to his name. He was the most important facet of that Italian team, putting together the best two months we have ever seen from a goalkeeper in international play.

To put matters into perspective, Buffon only conceded one goal leading up to the final against France, an own goal by Christian Zaccardo no less. He was sensational at making reflex saves throughout the competition and always being in the right position to quell the opposition.

Manuel Neuer has been Germany's and Bayern Munich's No.1 choice between the sticks
Manuel Neuer has been Germany's and Bayern Munich's No.1 choice between the sticksAlex Grimm/Getty Images

The same can be said for Neuer when Bayern Munich went on one of the most impressive streaks in recent memory last year, as he spearheaded the most formidable defense in Europe and won in the Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund.

If one had to choose an ideal starting XI and was plagued with the unenviable task of choosing between the two, it would come back to personal preference, with no clear-cut choice in the works.

Buffon is much more experienced because of his age, having nearly 140-international games under his belt, while Neuer is on the right track to reach triple digits with Germany.

In recent years, Buffon hasn't been tested as much as he was during his earlier years with Parma, as Juventus went on that incredible 49-match undefeated streak and Gigi would often go entire matches without seeing more than one or two shots come his way from distance.

It can be also said that a defense plays better and less nervous when they know they have a keeper with the qualities of both Buffon and Neuer, so deciding on one is based purely on personal preference.

Experience-wise, the Italian has it all, but the 27-year-old Neuer is entering his prime and is regarded as one of the finest in the world after showing his skills on the European level, making heart-stopping reaction saves and being confident from the penalty spot.

It'll be interesting to see how the two do in next year's World Cup, as this is going to be Buffon's last major tournament with Italy, while Neuer will have a few more chances to guide his German national team to that elusive title that they've come so close to getting in recent competitions.


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