Buffon steers Italy in right direction

Having played a crucial part in Italy's progress to the UEFA EURO 2008™ quarter-finals, Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is once again expecting to be kept busy against Spain in Vienna. But while the Iberians are narrow favourites to go through to the last four, the Azzurri No1 is relishing the fact that "our fate lies in our hands".

Buffon came to Italy's rescue when saving an 81st-minute penalty against Romania in their second game in Group C, before producing another fine display on Tuesday when they edged past France and into the knockout phase. Had the Netherlands lost to Romania it would have been irrelevant – they would have been eliminated. "Last week we also had to keep an eye on what was happening in the other match," said Buffon. "Now though, our fate lies in our own hands. That's important. I'm not saying that we're going to win but we won't disappoint." Italy failed to shine the last time the sides met in a friendly at the end of March in Elche, the goalkeeper unable to keep out David Villa's stunning second-half strike. Buffon insists it will have no bearing on their meeting on Sunday, though, explaining: "That match doesn't count because I think we played better than them on the night. We gave them far more problems than they did us and this game will be a completely different affair. It is a match that means a lot.

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