Buffon: ‘Atalanta and Fiorentina could surprise, keep an eye on Baldanzi’


Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon previewed the upcoming Serie A campaign and believes Atalanta, Fiorentina and Bologna could all surprise this season. The new Serie A season kicks off today, and speaking with La Gazzetta dello Sport, the veteran keeper talked about his predictions for the title race, revealing who he believes will be in the fight for the top 4 places and which young players to keep an eye out for:

What is the feeling of being out of the circus for the first time?

“No regrets. That’s the way I am: when I make a decision, maybe even the child of emotions, I go all the way. I said enough after the first half of the Cagliari-Parma playoff semifinal first leg. I had prepared myself as well as I could for that challenge and then, because of a triviality, I got injured. Life was sending me a clear signal, it was time to quit: so I did. I repeat: with no regrets and with so much happiness for what I have done in my career and for what has been returned to me as affection and successes.”

What championship will we see?

“Beautiful, spectacular. For the first time in a long time we will not have one of the usual big teams, I’m thinking of Juve, Inter and Milan, with the Scudetto on their jersey. It will be Napoli, who has had a memorable championship, that will start ahead. I’m curious to see what happens.” Favorite for the Scudetto? “Napoli, Inter and Juve.

Who will fight for the Champions zone?

“In addition to these three, I would add Milan, Lazio and Roma.”

And for salvation?

“The three newly promoted teams are the ones that will probably have the most difficulty. But Cagliari, in the long sprint for salvation, starts at an advantage having an experienced and good coach like Ranieri on the bench. And Verona I think will settle better because there is a very good coach like Baroni.”

From champion Naples, what do you expect?

“I am interested to see how the team and city will handle the post-scudetto period. It is never easy. You have to have your head on your shoulders.”

Are you intrigued by the new Milan?

“A lot. It is probably the team that intrigues me the most. I’m interested to see how Pioli, who has already proven to be very good, can put together so many players from different countries. It’s a fascinating challenge.”

Inter seems weaker in attack. Do you agree?

“The Nerazzurri start from a certainty: Lautaro Martinez. Next to him Inzaghi will know how to put the right players to enhance his qualities. Without Lukaku and Dzeko, but with Thuram and Arnautovic, Inter are in the running for the title.”

And of Juve’s new corporate course, what do you say?

“I watch with attention and understandable interest. Not having to play the cups may be a determining factor in the long run: fewer games, fewer injuries, more training.”

Where can Mourinho’s Roma go from here?

“He has made very good signings, there is no shortage of good players. I think he can get into the fight for a place in the Champions League.”

After finishing second last tournament, can Sarri’s Lazio aim for the title?

“I wouldn’t rush it, but I expect further improvement, Sarri’s teams grow over time. Again, there are good players and well-organized maneuvers.”

The team to surprise?

“I hope Atalanta. I confess: I have a soft spot for La Dea. I like Gasperini’s playing philosophy, I like the club, I like the environment that is one with the team. And then watch out for Italiano’s Fiorentina and let’s see what Thiago Motta’s Bologna, who, in the last part of last championship, I liked quite a lot.”

The player who will entertain us the most?

“I say two names for ‘brotherhood’: Federico Chiesa and Marcus Thuram. I was a teammate of their dads, Enrico and Lilian, in Parma. I saw them being born. It’s logical that I root for them. Just as I do for Dybala, an authentic champion.”

Will it be the one who scores the most goals or who will concede the fewest win?

“The one who will concede fewer, although it is not a mathematical law.”

When will Serie A return to the top of Europe?

“When there are strong ideas and there is also the courage to apply them at any cost. If these ideas are worth more than money, then yes, we can rise again. It would be important to become aware of the deficit compared to the leagues of other nations, without telling ourselves the usual hoaxes.”

Of your ten championships, which one do you remember most joyfully?

“The first one, in 2001-02, because it was unexpected. We won on the last day thanks to Inter’s defeat, it was the famous May 5…. And then the first Scudetto with Conte on the bench, 2011-12: that success gave meaning to my decision to stay at Juve even in B, after Calciopoli. I knew we would return to the top.”

The champions you would have liked to see in Italy, but never came or will come?

“Two, because I appreciated their qualities at Psg: Neymar and Mbappè. They have so much class that it takes your breath away. The Italian public would have deserved them, for the passion they have, to see them, as they once admired Ronaldo the Phenomeno, Zidane, Maradona and Platini, Van Basten and Gullit….”

The young man to watch out for?

“Baldanzi of Empoli. I followed him last season. He has some skills that I like. He seems to me to have that overconfidence that, if he doesn’t overflow, is very important.”

Goalkeepers under observation?

“I want to see the growth of Vicario, now at Tottenham, and Carnesecchi: they have very good qualities.”


Serie A obsessive.