'Italy not on par with world's best' - Buffon

The veteran shot-stopper believes the Azzurri are not yet among the top international sides in the world, but hopes they will be at the required level at next year's World Cup
Gianluigi Buffon believes that it is premature to claim Italy can be considered one of the best teams in the world.

Cesare Prandelli's men secured a third-place finish in June's Confederations Cup after previously making it to the final at Euro 2012, but the Juventus goalkeeper believes they are still a work in progress heading towards the World Cup in Brazil.

"Italy are not on a par with the world's best teams yet. We're at a different [lower] level," Buffon, 35, told Fifa.com.

"We're a side that have been improving steadily over the last few years. We hope to continue that process to be able to get to where we want to be.

"For now our focus isn't on drawing comparisons with other teams, but to reach the level we want to be at for Brazil 2014.

"I think we're on the right track, but it's a process so we constantly need to hone the finer details. We did well at the Confederations Cup and we upheld the reputation Italy has earned over the years.

"We'll try to do the same at the World Cup but we need to be in good form to do so. That's what we're working towards."

Italy currently sit first in their World Cup qualification group with 14 points from six games, holding a four-point lead over second-placed Bulgaria.