Gianluigi Buffon kicks idea of Paris Saint-Germain winning the Champions League into Row Z

The legendary Italian stopper is finally set to make his Champions League debut for PSG against Napoli next Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 02 November 2018
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Gianluigi Buffon kicks idea of Paris Saint-Germain winning the Champions League into Row Z

  • Italian keeper says his new team are not ready to win Europe's biggest prize.
  • PSG currently up against it, lying third in their group behind Liverpool and Napoli.

PARIS: Gianluigi Buffon believes Paris Saint-Germain are not ready to win the Champions League as he prepares to make his European debut with the club against Napoli and play his first game in Italy since leaving Juventus.
The 40-year-old World Cup winner was suspended for PSG’s opening three European games for his behavior and comments toward the referee during Juventus’ quarterfinal loss to Real Madrid last April.
“To achieve certain successes we need a path, a project, a management and a team that have known each other for a long time,” Buffon said in an interview with Sky Sport Italia.
“PSG have been renewed in recent years and need time.”
Buffon said Lionel Messi’s Barcelona and Juventus, who bought Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo last summer, were the favorites.
“In the Champions League there are two or three favorites — Barcelona, because they have the first or occasionally the second (best) player in the world.
“Then there is Juventus, who in recent years have consolidated at these levels and taken the other player who is considered the first and sometimes the second in the world.
“There are outsiders like the (Manchester) City ... who have a coach and a team that make them one of the potential winners.”
Qatar-owned PSG are third in Group C with four points, behind Liverpool (six) and Napoli (five), and will be battling for a win to salvage their flagging European campaign.
“It will be a delicate match against a very high-level opponent,” he said.
“The arrival of (Carlo) Ancelotti means this team now has a certain awareness that it’s not certain they would have had before.”
Buffon added it had been tough watching the first three games from the sidelines.
“I watched on TV in the dressing room, not being able to participate makes me suffer.”
He said he still did not understand why he had been sent off by English referee Michael Oliver.
His suspension followed a post-match rant in which he said the referee had a “rubbish bin” where his heart should be.
“I really was in a foul temper and the Gigi from Carrara (his hometown in Tuscany) came out,” said Buffon, who added he would laugh off the incident if he met Oliver again.
“I would joke, because irony is the best way to break down walls and immediately create empathy.”


Francesco Molinari looking for ‘dream’ end to season in Dubai at DP World Tour Championship

Updated 15 November 2018
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Francesco Molinari looking for ‘dream’ end to season in Dubai at DP World Tour Championship

  • 2018 has been an incredible year for Molinari
  • If Molinari wins this weekend, it would make him just the third player in history to win multiple Rolex Series events

LONDON: Francesco Molinari is looking to end a fairytale season by becoming the European No. 1 at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, which starts today, and the first Italian to achieve the feat.
2018 has been an incredible year for Molinari, with a maiden Major victory in the Open Championship in July, which followed a first Rolex event victory at the BMW PGA Championship in May. He has also not missed a single cut this season, a run that extends over four years in regular European Tour events.
And in a glorious Ryder Cup for the Europeans, he became the first player from the continent to win five points out of five, while securing the winning point in his singles match against USA’s Phil Mickelson.
Speaking to journalists ahead of today’s tee-off, the Italian said: “It feels incredible, a new position for me, I’ve never been here in the past.
“I think it’s just a consequence and a sign of an incredible season. I would have never guessed that I would be here in this position if you told me in April or May this year but it’s been an incredible summer, topped by an unbelievable Ryder Cup.
“Really, it’s a dream season for me and it’s nice to be here in this position. Hopefully I’ll be able to close it out. I know it’s not going to be easy and I’m not making any assumptions but I’ll do my best on the course to do the job.
And when asked about his prospects of winning the Harry Vardon trophy this weekend, he said: “You can have the best week of your life and win one tournament but to win a competition that lasts throughout the season, with the amount of talent there is right now on the European Tour, is something really hard to do but it’s also still hard to figure out for me how I’m here in this position.”
Molinari needs to finish tied-fifth or better at the Jumeirah Golf Estates to seal the Race to Dubai crown, but Ryder Cup partner Tommy Fleetwood — the man he formed such a strong bond with in Paris — is the only man who can prevent him the perfect ending.
Victory for the Englishman on the Earth Course is the only way he can deny Molinari the title, but the Italian was full of praise for his “best friend” and would not begrudge Fleetwood if he successfully defended his Race to Dubai crown.
“I know we said this and we’re going to sound really cheesy but if I don’t win, I’d rather see him win than anyone else,” he said.
“We really are good friends and he’s had an amazing season. To think that he won last year and to come here, still with a chance to win two in a row, it’s incredible, really.
“So fair play to him. What I can say for me is that it’s been a great season and however it goes this week, I’m still going to have lots of great memories from all of what I’ve done this year, and probably the best memory is what we’ve done together with him in France.
“I can’t really be mad at him, even if he wins.”
If Molinari wins this weekend, it would make him just the third player in history to win multiple Rolex Series events and he praised the introduction of the European Tour’s prestige level of tournaments.
“There’s a few events that we target every year,” he said. “It’s great for us to have the opportunity to play in such special tournaments.
“Especially for guys like me, playing a home event in Italy that is part of the Rolex Series, just gives a completely new meaning to the Italian Open.”