For those of you who wanted to see Juventus goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon walk the team out of the Juventus Stadium tunnel for the first time in 2017 on Sunday night, you might not want to get your hopes up. Or, well at all.
At his first pre-match press conference of the new year, Juve manager Max Allegri ruled out Buffon for Sunday’s game against Bologna in Turin due to illness. As a result, not only will somebody else be wearing the captain’s armband for the first game of the calendar year, but backup goalkeeper Neto will get his first playing time in nearly a month after starting Juve’s final Champions League group stage game against Dinamo Zagreb on Dec. 7.
Max, in English, please. Not all of us around here speak fluent Italian like you do.
So that settles that. Buffon is sick and Neto — who has started three games and made four appearances overall — will be playing in his place for Sunday’s game against Bologna.
This isn’t the worst thing in the world, all things considered. Juventus has their first Coppa Italia fixture of the season on Wednesday night against Atlanata. Based on how Allegri has played it over the years, his backup goalkeeper is always going to be playing in goal whenever the Coppa Italia arrives. So, put two and two together and you realize that Neto was going to be playing on Wednesday regardless of Buffon’s health status.
And seeing as Neto’s appearances are pretty much happening once a month this season, playing in back-to-back games can eliminate any kind of rust that might be there. Not that he’s played poorly after going weeks without stepping in goal, but the more you play, the more comfortable you feel, they like to say.