Gianluigi Buffon’s Champions League unlucky run from first club Parma to current club PSG

From Parma to Juventus to Paris, Gianluigi Buffon has had a remarkable career, winning countless titles on the domestic, European and international stage. But still, there is one trophy that evades him. He has a World Cup winners’ medal, nine Italian league titles and a UEFA Cup triumph under his belt, but the Champions League always has and perhaps always will evade him. Wednesday night saw his Paris Saint-Germain side head into their game against Manchester United with a healthy 2-0 lead and nobody expecting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team to overturn. But incredibly, they did.

Buffon first began his time in the Champions League with his first club Parma back in 1997

And with that, Buffon’s wait for a Champions League winners’ medal goes on. 15 times of asking, three finals, no success. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. It all began with Parma back in 1997, a fresh-faced Buffon appearing in his first ever Champions League. They competed in a group with Sparta Prague, Galatasaray and Borussia Dortmund, eventually finishing second. Nowadays, that would secure you a place in the next round, but back then only the group winners and two best second-placed teams progressed. Parma were not one, and they crashed out, never to return to Europe’s top table again.

Image result for buffon after man u loss

Five years later, though, Buffon was back himself, this time playing for Juventus after a huge £45million move in 2001. They got to the now-defunct second group stage round before crashing out… but the following year was one to remember. In their campaign of 2002-03 they reached the final, where they faced AC Milan. Barcelona and Real Madrid had already been downed on the way to Old Trafford, but after a 0-0 draw after extra time, Buffon was perilous to stop Milan winning 3-2 on penalties. Little did Buffon know, this heartache was to be repeated twice more. As the years progressed, Juve reached the latter stages regularly but never got as far as the final again. Last 16, quarters, last 16, quarters.

Image result for buffon vs Barca final

It was not until 2015 that Buffon got a second crack of the whip in a Champions League final. Still with Juventus, and now regarded as the best goalkeeper of his generation, many were keen to see him lift the final piece of his puzzle. Barcelona, on the other hand, had other ideas. Within four minutes, Ivan Rakitic had put them ahead and despite Alvaro Morata levelling things up, the Spaniards went on to win 3-1 in normal time. The third, a Neymar shot, crept through Buffon’s legs.

Date Team Opponent Season Round
10/12/1997 Parma Galatasaray 1997/98 Group Stage
12/03/2002 Juventus Bayer 04 Leverkusen 2001/02 Group Stage – 2nd
28/05/2003 Juventus Milan 2002/03 Final
09/03/2004 Juventus Deportivo de La Coru¤a 2003/04 Last 16
13/04/2005 Juventus Liverpool 2004/05 Quarter Final
05/04/2006 Juventus Arsenal 2005/06 Quarter Final
10/03/2009 Juventus Chelsea 2008/09 Last 16
08/12/2009 Juventus FC Bayern Mnchen 2009/10 Group Stage
10/04/2013 Juventus FC Bayern Mnchen 2012/13 Quarter Final
11/12/2013 Juventus Galatasaray 2013/14 Group Stage
06/06/2015 Juventus Barcelona 2014/15 Final
16/03/2016 Juventus FC Bayern Mnchen 2015/16 Last 16
03/06/2017 Juventus Real Madrid 2016/17 Final
11/04/2018 Juventus Real Madrid 2017/18 Quarter Final
06/03/2019 Paris Saint-Germain Manchester United 2018/19 Last 16

By now, Buffon had competed in 11 Champions Leagues, but was still without a winners’ medal. The following season, Juve were dumped out in the last 16, but in 2017 they were back and romped through to the final. They won their group, beat Porto, Barcelona and Monaco on the way to the final, before meeting Real Madrid Cardiff. This, of course, was the Ronaldo show.

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Cristiano scored twice as Real romped to a 4-1 win and Buffon’s Juve really had no chance on a night where the Spaniards became the first team ever to win back-to-back Champions Leagues. It was Real who knocked them out in 2018 too, and now at the age of 41 Buffon was heading into his 15th Champions League campaign with time running out. With a healthy 2-0 lead over United going into this week, many backed them to progress with ease and head into the last eight with a great chance of going deep into the competition once more. Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani on their books, superb players in abundance, but once more they fell short.

Marcus Rashford’s last-gasp VAR-assisted penalty has confirmed another year of failure when it comes to Buffon in Europe’s premier competition… and with the goalkeeper in his twilight years, who knows if he’ll get another chance. {source; DailyMail}