Gianluigui Buffon and Gianluigi Donnarumma: The two walls of Italian football

There is something in Italian football that produces goalkeepers who can keep the opposition goalless. It’s like they are a wall built just to keep targets away. Italy’s style of football is defensive and combative. They rely heavily on defence, with little surprise in attack and excellent goalkeeping. When these three come together, Italy becomes a force to be reckoned with in world football. Over the past few decades, Italy has been served by two of the best goalkeepers in the business.

Gianluigi Buffon and Gianluigi Donnarumma have been brilliant for Italy at the World Cup and Euro 2020. Buffon was the original master while Donnarumma was the apprentice. If one looks at the records of both Buffon and Donnarumma, it makes for some sensational reading.

Records of Buffon and Donnarumma

Buffon holds the record for the longest streak without scoring in Serie A history. He achieved this in twelve league matches. Buffon kept the opposition out for 974 consecutive minutes during the 2015–16 season, achieving the most consecutive clean sheets (10) during that run. Buffon also holds the records for most clean sheets and most appearances in both Serie A and the Italian national team.

Donnarumma, on the other hand, was the biggest sensation for Italy in the team’s unbeaten 34-run streak leading up to Euro 2020. Donnarumma hasn’t conceded more than two goals in his 28-match international career. He almost kept a clean sheet in Euro 2020. During the penalty shoot-out, Donnarumma helped Italy break their 53-year streak of not winning the Euro.

In an environment that was partisan and emotional, Donnarumma was the only player who remained calm. It expressed his genius. It’s only natural considering the way Buffon has molded a generation of goalkeepers.

ultimate goalkeeper

When an opponent is unable to get past the goalkeepers, it results in frustration. Mistakes are made. Whenever Buffon and Donnarumma come out, the opponents are already distracted by the knowledge that it will be impossible to overcome the two of them. Apart from the layer of defense that the Italian team has built, it is very difficult to score against them. The streaks of not conceding the goals accumulated by both are a testimony to their prowess and greatness.

Buffon had seven consecutive clean sheets in the 2013 season. It was his ninth of the season. Buffon bettered his previous personal record of 568 minutes without conceding in Serie A. But, in 2015, he got one better. Buffon went 974 minutes without conceding a goal. Close to 1000 minutes, 11 matches approx! To do this requires a strange amount of ingenuity.

It is not without reason that Buffon won the Golden Foot award for the first time and was one of the contenders for the Ballon d’Or. This makes Buffon revolutionary.

Donnarumma is getting there

However, the ground laid by Buffon has now been expanded upon by Donnarumma. Italy is now in even safer hands thanks to Donnarumma. His exploits in the lead-up to Euro 2020 in which Italy remained unbeaten speaks for itself. He had eight clean sheets and was at his best in the tournament. Against Spain and England, he was at his best in the penalty shootout. If Italy managed to break the jinx, it was due to the brilliance of the youngest keeper to ever play for Italy.

It is rare for goalkeepers to be awarded major prizes in major football tournaments. But, Buffon and Donnarumma have executed it in grand style. At AC Milan, Donnarumma made 251 appearances for the club in all competitions. He had 88 clean sheets and was instrumental in helping the club to second place in Serie A.

Buffon and Donnarumma have had illustrious careers so far. Donnarumma apprenticed to Buffon’s mastery. It makes sense to honor two of Italy’s greatest goalkeepers in this era.

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