Ahead of the Azzurri's Euro 2012 qualifier in Slovenia, there has been much debate over who should start between the sticks. Gigi Buffon has returned from his injury nightmare to regain the No.1 jersey, while many have called for Bologna's Emiliano Viviano to get the nod. Despite the obvious bias in my opinion, it is Buffon who should start on Friday night.
Take nothing away from Viviano, who has proved both for his club and his country during Buffon's absence, that he is more than capable of becoming Italy's No.1 for many years to come. Paired with Juve's struggles in Serie A and it would seem the most sensible solution. Bologna skipper Marco Di Vaio seemed to think so anyway.
'At the moment I believe Viviano is better than Buffon in terms of consistency,' he told reporters.
'Buffon has an incredible history though, and I hope Viviano can repeat it. Buffon was for years the greatest, but this season he is paying for the long injury. Emiliano has the character to become the next Buffon for the next 10 years.'
The key point in that quote for me is 'the next Buffon'. Gigi is far from done, as I'm sure he will tell you himself. Granted his comeback from the serious back injury has shown he still has some rustiness to be rid of, but there is no doubt that the player capped 103 times by his country, remains a formidable presence in the Italian backline.
While 'Don Fabio' passes the England captain's armband around like a game of pass the parcel at a five-year-old's birthday party, and France recall the troublesome duo from South Africa to their squad, take this in a positive light and it actually provides Prandelli with a nice headache to have such competition for places. While the media outside of Italy continue to base their opinions of the national side on their poor showing at the World Cup last year, the former Fiorentina coach is slowly moulding together a side that is showing promising signs in the build-up to Euro 2012, no more so than in their last outing in the 1-1 draw with Germany. The icing on the cake sees Prandelli wanting to do it in style, dropping Daniele De Rossi and Mario Balotelli as part of his 'code of ethics', aiming to create an elegant and ethical Azzurri side.
Undoubtedly Viviano's time will come, but while Prandelli is showing faith in the youngsters and ushering in a new generation of stars for the future, he still remains confident that Buffon is the man to don the gloves.
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