Gianluigi Buffon has named Atletico Madrid the one side Juventus are hoping to avoid when the Champions League semi-final draw takes place on Friday.
Juventus have been made bookies’ favourites to lift the European Cup for the first time since 1996, despite holders Real Madrid still being in the competition after a thrilling Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired 6-3 aggregate win over Bayern Munich.
The Italian champions’ defence is arguably the strongest remaining in the competition after shutting out the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar for 180 minutes.
Atletico have one of the strongest defences in Europe themselves and, despite the firepower possessed by both Monaco and Real, they are also the only team remaining in the Champions League not distracted by a domestic title battle.
“Maybe it’s better to meet Monaco or Real, who will spend significant energy in the fight for the league,” the 39-year-old told Mediaset Premium.
“They would rotate less, compared to Atletico, who have a more defined position [in the table] and can manage themselves.”
Buffon has never won the Champions League but has been a losing finalist twice, and insisted the belief is there after shutting out Barcelona’s attack – something which came as a surprise to him.
“Aside from the result, the belief and character of our approach was excellent and it’s a good confidence booster to qualify comfortably against what remains probably the best team in the world,” Buffon added.
“I did think we had a good chance of qualification after the 3-0 first leg result, but I honestly didn’t believe we would come to Camp Nou and keep a clean sheet.”