Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said he was hugely disappointed after his side crumbled in the second half to lose 4-1 to Real Madrid in the Champions League final.
Buffon failed to beat Paolo Maldini’s record as the oldest player to win the UEFA Champions League (39 years, 126 days old) as his side fell to defeat, thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo brace.
Juventus had conceded just three goals in 12 games before the final and were unlucky as two of Madrid’s goals came from deflections.
“It’s a big disappointment, because we thought that we’d done everything necessary to play this final and finally win it,” Buffon, who has never won the Champions League, told Mediaset Premium.
“We had an excellent first half, where we caused Real Madrid huge problems, so it leaves you open-mouthed in shock that incidents never go our way. That’s disappointing. Evidently in order to win a trophy like this, you need to be stronger than adversity.
“I thought it was a great approach in the first half, not giving Madrid any more advantages, and we ran really hard. Perhaps we ran a bit too hard and didn’t make the most of that advantage on the field. That’s disappointing.
“In the second half their class, strength and how accustomed they are to winning these games showed through. They won deservedly.
“Naturally there are a few regrets, as in the incidents it all went wrong for us.”
FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who was in attendance, paid tribute to Buffon after the game.
“Juventus played a great first half, then in the second Real Madrid were extraordinary. They were two excellent sides and in the end the best team won,” Infantino told Mediaset Premium.
“It was down to experience and other factors. It remains a very strong season for Juventus and for Gigi, as next year there’s the World Cup too. I send a hug to Buffon, who is more than just a champion. He’s immense.”
There will be an inquest – particularly into what exactly Massimiliano Allegri said to his side at half-time and why his side “dropped off, psychologically”, as he put it – but only after another all-too-familiar painful period of dejection and defeatism.
Thanks to what they have done off the field in recent years, Juve are now in a strong economic position and have the resources and leadership to return to the summit of European football.
“We start again!” midfielder Claudio Marchisio defiantly declared, while Allegri stated, “We should’ve reacted to the second goal and defended for our lives, but this is another step we have to take in future to learn from this and mature.”
However, several members of the second-oldest side ever to play in a Champions League final might never get another chance to lift the trophy, chief among them Andrea Barzagli and Buffon.
The latter had openly admitted before the game that some of his team-mates “have at least four or years of football ahead of them. I do not.”
Sadly, there was to be “no happy ending to the fairy tale” that the 39-year-old Buffon had spoken about on the eve of his third final appearance, just the same old sad story for both him and Juventus.