Milan (AFP) – Gianluigi Buffon on Tuesday blasted talk of a row with Juventus teammate Medhi Benatia as “invented gossip” to try and unnerve the champions in the title race.
Buffon, 40, was reported to have let rip at centre-back Benatia after Kalidou Koulibaly scored in the final minute in Turin as Napoli beat Juventus 1-0 on Sunday, cutting Juve’s lead to just one point at the top of Serie A with four games to play.
It was also a foul by the Moroccan defender which resulted in the controversial late penalty which gave Real Madrid a place in the Champions League semi-finals at the expense of the Italians.
“It’s the kind of gossip, patently invented, that comes after the defeat of teams like Juventus who don’t have an Achilles heel,” Buffon told Juventus TV.
“They try to destabilise the environment and undermine the certainty and the union of the group,” he continued.
“No-one, at least in my 17 years at Juventus, is allowed to point the finger at someone and blame an error for a defeat.
“What’s more, as long as I’m captain of this team that will never happen.
“I’d like to add that Medhi is an extremely respectful lad and that he’s tied to our cause with an education and way of being in an exceptional group.
“I’m sorry to be forced to point it out, but I have to because in the face of news which is, if not defamatory at least false, I think a clarification is needed to protect the group and Medhi, who is a splendid lad.”
Goalkeeping legend Buffon insisted his side were united as they push for a seventh consecutive Serie A title and a fourth straight Italian Cup.
“We’ve dropped five very important points in recent days, but we’re still first with a very small advantage,” said the Italian.
“There are 20 days to go, in which we’ll have to return to the pitch with ferocity and sporting brutality and to be united.
“The match with Inter (on Saturday) is a decisive one, but the ones with Bologna, Roma, and Verona will be too and then there’s the Italian Cup final.
“If not we’ll play into the hands of our opponents and those who, in our few moments of difficulty, have always tried to create problems with ill-founded news, without ever succeeding.”