Buffon hails Italian spirit
By Peter ORourke
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon believes the squad has bonded together.
Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon believes the squad has bonded together following the match-fixing scandal that has overshadowed their World Cup preparations.
Buffon found himself caught up in the controversy after being questioned over betting on some Serie A matches.
Italy put their off the field problems behind them on Monday to open their World Cup campaign with a 2-0 win over Ghana and Buffon believes the scandal has made the entire squad stronger.
"I don't want to sound presumptuous but I expected a performance like that," said Buffon of Italy's 2-0 win.
"There was an energy in the air and a different kind of feeling.
"If we go out of this competition, whether in the first round, the last 16, the quarter-finals or whenever it will be because we came up against a stronger side, which is different from at other tournaments.
"This is a more complicated group for us and if we weren't united we would have lost (against Ghana).
"There is a very positive atmosphere in the team - there is a lot of belief and the feeling that something strong has been born.
"In the midst of all this, it is clear that we are playing for Italy.
"We are sweating, sacrificing, running and earning our money for Italy.
"It is a waste of time to always look for problems, to make war. If we win then we are all happy."
Simone Perrotta echoed the sentiments of Buffon insisting there is a resilient mood within the Italy camp.
"The difference is in the group - it is a tight group, we are very together and at the European Championships it wasn't like that," said Perrotta.