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Juventus veteran Gianluigi Buffon delighted to keep proving his worth

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Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon wants to be missed when he finally decides to retire.

The 39-year-old marked his 100th Champions League appearance for Juve by resisting Monaco’s lethal forward line – featuring teenage star Kylian Mbappe – as the Bianconeri claimed a 2-0 first-leg lead thanks to a Gonzalo Higuain brace.

His semi-final showing was one of Buffon’s best in Europe and, after losing the final in both 2003 and 2015 he is determined to secure the one major trophy that eludes him before calling time on his 22-year career.

“That’s why I’m here,” he told juventus.com following full-time at the Stade Louis II. “I have to prove I can still play at this level despite my age.

“What counts is that I step up when the team need me. As long as I can keep doing that, I’ll be a happy man.

“My objective is for people to think it’s a shame when I retire. That’s why I’m still working so hard.

“Obviously it helps to play for a team like this, because it makes me happy and there’s nothing better than working in such a positive environment.”

While Buffon marshalled a mean back-line comprising Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, natural full-back Dani Alves was pushed forward and duly delivered the two assists for Higuain’s goals.

The Juve keeper hailed an impressive team performance as the Old Lady returned to Turin with a dominant advantage, which should see them through to June’s Cardiff final, against Real or Atletico Madrid.

He said: “I think the team played well tonight. It was the type of performance we needed to produce if we were going to keep a clean sheet and get the win here.
“If you don’t have the right attitude, keep it compact and show your quality in attack then it gets a bit difficult.

“Our aim is to keep improving. That’s why we work hard and train every day. Given the fact some of us don’t have much time left, it’s vital we don’t waste this opportunity.”

Monaco’s hopes of reaching the summer showpiece for the first time since 2004 may be hanging by a thread, but like Juve they are in pole position to win their domestic championship.

Midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, who made the mistake that led to Alves setting up Higuain for the second goal, wants the principality club to bounce back with a confidence-boosting victory at Nancy in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

He told L’Equipe: “They put us under pressure from the first whistle – we didn’t quite expect that.

“They kept hold of the ball while playing a high line in their own half.

“It’s a shame that we conceded first as that goal was avoidable.

“After the break we had good chances but we lacked efficiency. A team as good as Juventus will punish you for a mistake, and so they scored a second goal.

“The coach and the club president told us afterwards that all is not lost, and that we are doing good things.

“They said we battled hard – now we must turn our attention to beating Nancy.”

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