Italy’s Buffon strains ankle ahead of England game
MANAUS, Brazil — Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was being treated for a minor ankle injury ahead of the team’s World Cup opener against England on Saturday, handing the four-time champion another defensive headache.
“It’s a minor strain,” coach Cesare Prandelli said Friday after the Italy captain exited a hot and humid training session early at the Arena da Amazonia. “He’s undergoing therapy.”
Buffon’s injury occurred after media were ushered out of the stadium, where Italy will face England on Saturday in Group D.
Italy’s reserve goalkeepers are Salvatore Sirigu of Paris Saint-Germain and Mattia Perin of Genoa.
Antonio Mirante was brought to Brazil as a fourth goalkeeper in case of injury but was sent home earlier Friday.
Sirigu impressed in a 0-0 draw with Ireland two weeks ago in a warm-up match and has Champions League experience with PSG. He was treated for a bruised rib after the Ireland match and has since regained fitness.
Prandelli has already had to deal with an injury to first-choice fullback Mattia De Sciglio, who was ruled out of the England game with a strained leg muscle.
Even if he doesn’t play, the 36-year-old Buffon has already tied a record held by Germany great Lothar Matthaus and former Mexico goalkeeper Antonio Carbajal by being included in his fifth World Cup squad.
Buffon had back trouble at the 2010 World Cup and only played in Italy’s opening match as the Azzurri were eliminated in the first round.
At the 2006 tournament, Buffon was one of the key players in Italy’s title run, conceding no goals to opposition players over the course of normal play in seven matches. The only goals he conceded were an own goal by Cristian Zaccardo and a penalty from Zinedine Zidane in the final won against France.