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 By Ben Gladwell

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon a Ballon d'Or contender - Iker Casillas

Iker Casillas has said Cristiano Ronaldo and Gianluigi Buffon are the only candidates to win the Ballon d'Or, although he is sceptical about the Juventus goalkeeper succeeding.

Lev Yashin was the only goalkeeper to be named the world's best player in 1963 and while Casillas believes Buffon would be the perfect candidate to be the second, he doubts whether it will happen, even if the shot-stopper helps Juventus win the Champions League against Ronaldo's Real on Saturday.

"If only a goalkeeper could win it, but I think it's very complicated," Casillas, 36, told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "There have been times when a goalkeeper could have fought for the trophy: I think of [Peter] Schmeichel back in 1999 when he won the Treble, or [Oliver] Kahn in 2002, yet they were never really in the running.

"We are those who don't really get considered as part of the group. Only Yashin won it in 1963 -- back when we were landing on the moon. A long time has passed since then. But yes, effectively there are not many alternatives [this year].

"Maybe [Paulo] Dybala. I would like it to be a Spaniard, like Sergio Ramos for example, but it's the same story: we've won it only once and that was in the 1960s. We had the chance with Raul, [Andres] Iniesta, Xavi, Fernando Torres and now with Sergio, but in the end I think it's going to be Cristiano again, especially if Madrid win the Champions League."

Casillas will be rooting for his former side Real in Cardiff this Saturday, although he admits he is torn considering Buffon's involvement for Juventus.

"If only their rivals were not Madrid, I would want Buffon to win the Champions League with all my heart," Casillas said. "Obviously I will be supporting Madrid, but Gigi's sporting career must not end without him winning the Champions League.

"He's won almost everything and this is a trophy that he is missing, and it's a huge void. He's had an outstanding season and he's in another final. For us 'elderly,' and I'm thinking of myself, [Arsenal's Petr] Cech ... it's something positive.

"He's showing that at 39, you can still be in good shape and competitive."

Buffon plans to show it also at 40, when he intends to represent Italy at next summer's World Cup, before bringing an end at least to his international career. He has not confirmed whether he will retire from the game completely by then, but that leaves him potentially two chances to get his hands on the Champions League, and win the Ballon d'Or.

Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.


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