Italy must be brave against Belgium – Buffon

Lyon (AFP) – Veteran Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon says the Azzurri must be prepared to be daring in their opening Euro 2016 match against Belgium on Monday.

Both Buffon, 38, and Italy coach Antonio Conte went to great pains to make Belgium the favourites for the Group E clash at Stade de Lyon.

This will be Buffon’s ninth major tournament with Italy and he outlined what they will need to beat Belgium and begin their bid to reach the final in Paris on July 10.  

“The players with the experience need to perform at 100 percent,” said the Juventus shot-stopper, who won the 2006 World Cup title and reached the Euro 2012 final with the Azzurri.

“The debutants also need to find the touch of craziness, if you will, the folly to be bold.

“They really need to harness their bravery, to be daring when the moment calls for it.

“Occasionally you are the hammer and in other situations you are the anvil, we really need to make the most of this chance to show what we can do.

“We won’t necessarily start as one of the favourites, but we need to show we are competitive.”

Euro 2016 could be Buffon’s final tournament and the veteran says his only desire is to leave France with no regrets.

“At my age, I am more aware of what it means to play in a European Championship,” he added after Italy bowed out in the group stages of the last two World Cup finals.

“All I’d like, regardless of how far we go, is that we don’t return home with any regrets or with a question mark, like we have done in the past.

“This time we are giving our hearts and soul and will do whatever the coach tells us to do, but everything else will come down to fine margins.”

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