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 By Ben Gladwell

Gigi Buffon: Bayern's Manuel Neuer not yet among world's best keepers

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon paid tribute to his Bayern Munich counterpart Manuel Neuer, but said it is premature to name him as one of the world's best.

When Juve face Bayern in the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday night, two of the best goalkeepers in circulation will be standing at opposite ends of the field.

Buffon, 38, is widely regarded as the best of his generation while Neuer, nine years his junior, is pioneering a new goalkeeping style which has won him many fans and much recognition.

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When asked if the German No. 1 was already in the category of world-class, Buffon shrugged his shoulders.

"I've been fortunate to see some fantastic, reliable goalkeepers with plenty of quality," Buffon said at a news conference in Turin. "Of course Neuer is one of this group of goalkeepers and he's a goalkeeper who plays in a very open-minded way.

"Obviously given the way his team play, he's an important pillar who gives them a huge hand, but when I think of great keepers, the likes of [Iker] Casillas, [Petr] Cech or [Oliver] Kahn and many others who I have not mentioned either come to mind.

"We must not get carried away by the moment."

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer had his share of highs and lows on Tuesday night at The Emirates.
Manuel Neuer is not yet among Gianluigi Buffon's mental list of top goalkeepers.

That also means Buffon is not getting carried away by his own achievements, or by his current record of 654 minutes without conceding. Instead, he credited his teammates for helping him keep so many consecutive clean sheets.

"I knew it was a while since I last conceded, I admit it," he said. "But I didn't know how many games and minutes, and you're telling me it's over 600 minutes? Well this says we've got a great defence, which is not the same as saying we have a great goalkeeper.

"Of course it helps to have individual players in defence who are reliable with great quality, but when you concede few goals it's because you have a full team working to ensure that the opponents' attacks are not dangerous."

Another clean sheet on Tuesday night would be just what Juve need, according to their coach Massimiliano Allegri, who would even be happy if his own side do not find the back of the net -- not that he thinks that will happen.

"Last year I got millions of insults when I said 0-0 was a good result, but 0-0 is a great result at home," he said. "It's important we go there with two results which can get us through, because away goals count double.

"It's unlikely that it will finish 0-0 tomorrow. I can see lots of goals."

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