Football

Buffon's better than Neuer

Azzurri striker Immobile believes Italian custodian is the best goalkeeper in the world

ITALY v GERMANY

(Tomorrow, 3.45am, San Siro)

Italy forward Ciro Immobile says Gianluigi Buffon is still better than Manuel Neuer as he bids to gain revenge over Germany tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

Immobile watched from the bench in Bordeaux as Italy lost to their rivals for the first time in a competitive fixture in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals in July.

Buffon drew the short straw in the penalty shoot-out, which followed a 1-1 draw, but the Lazio forward still believes the Juventus custodian has no rivals in the world game.

"In Buffon, we have the best goalkeeper in the world," Immobile told Germany's Kicker magazine.

"He is still better than Neuer."

Neither is expected to start in the friendly tomorrow morning, when Italy welcome Germany to the San Siro, however, with both coaches intending to use the fixture for experimentation with younger players.

Italy look set to field 17-year-old Gianluigi Donnarumma between the sticks, while Bayer Leverkusen's Bernd Leno, 24, looks set to start for Germany in a prestigious game between two footballing giants.

"We were on the same level as them at the European Championship, but we came home empty-handed," Immobile said.

"I've never suffered in my career as much as I did that night. I needed quite a few days to come to terms with that. Now let's see how far we are from Germany's level."

Immobile led the Italy attack and scored in their 4-0 World Cup qualifying win over Liechtenstein last Friday, but he may have a watching brief tomorrow morning as Italy coach Giampiero Ventura experiments in a game he admits he could have done without.

"It would have been nicer to have a less demanding game," Ventura said at a press conference.

"They are the world champions. It's a tough game and I'm sorry, also because when you face Germany, you want to have had a few days to prepare, yet we've had practically 24 hours to prepare and that's not much.

"But we'll just try to get the best we can out of this game.

"I know results matter a lot in Italy and this also influences judgments but, together with the result, what matters to me is the spirit, the interpretation and reading of situations.

STEP FORWARD

"So let's try to take a step forward in this regard."

Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura says the glamour friendly against Germany will provide a telling indicator of where his side stand against the world champions.

"Playing Germany should give us an indication of where we're at," said Ventura.

"We'll go out and give it everything we have, even though in Italy, the result always counts. It's a friendly, but it's not a game among friends."

Germany coach Joachim Loew has also announced plans to rotate his team following an 8-0 win over San Marino which extended their perfect start to World Cup qualifying.

Wolfsburg's 22-year-old midfielder Yannick Gerhardt is "certainly an option" to make his debut, while Werder Bremen's Serge Gnabry and Leverkusen's versatile Benjamin Henrichs could both start.

Loew added that Benedikt Hoewedes and Mats Hummels - his two most experienced players - will form the heart of his defence, while he had also praised Schalke's Leon Goretzka - one of several Under-21 players set to start the match.

"Goretzka's made a good impression on me," Loew said.

"He's a player with good technique, a lot of tempo with and without the ball and also a good personality." - Wire Services.


I needed quite a few days to come to terms with that. Now let’s see how far we are from Germany’s level.

— Italy’s Ciro Immobile, on their Euro 2016 loss to Germany on penalties

FootballItalyGermany