Buffon talks up 'prestigious' Juventus, Napoli encounter
By Football News
Gianluigi Buffon believes Juventus' fixture with Napoli has reclaimed its place as a prestigious event in the Serie A calendar.
The goalkeeper - who will appear 18 years after making his league debut for former club Parma in 1995 - admits the fixture had lost prominence until the two teams were competing for the Serie B title six years ago.
Juventus ultimately won that battle, returning to the top flight as champions, while Napoli claimed runner-up spot in the 2006-07 campaign.
Since then Juve have claimed back-to-back titles and Napoli came third in the 2010-11 season, with Buffon praising the way both clubs have bounced back from adversity.
"The prestige of the tie was lost a bit after the years of Michel Platini and Diego Maradona," he told Corriere dello Sport.
"That returned with the matches in Serie B where both teams had ended up. In a few years we found ourselves competing at the top and that is the result of planning.
"For Juventus, the club's tradition and the (Agnelli) family was important, while Aurelio De Laurentiis deserves great credit for Napoli."
Napoli and Juventus both have 28 points in Serie A, with the former sitting second by virtue of goal difference.
Roma remain at the top of the pile, having amassed 31 points from a possible 33, and Buffon credited Rudi Garcia's men for their excellent form.
"Nobody expected the Giallorossi to be flying so high," he continued. "Not even themselves or their most optimistic supporter.
"Their run signifies that they have a great desire, motivation and squad spirit - characteristics which allow you to scale unthinkable mountains.
"Roma are first and they deserve it. They will be a rival right up until the very end."