Buffon welcomes rivals' challenge as title race in Italy hots up

The Juventus No.1 believes the added competition from the likes of Napoli, who trail the league leaders by three points, could be key to driving them to Serie A success this year
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon insists the emergence of Napoli and Lazio as title contenders can motivate his team to a successful defence of their Serie A crown.

The 35-year-old has seen the Bianconeri's lead cut to three points following a difficult start to the year, but Buffon is welcoming the added competition and hopes it will prove beneficial in the title race.

Speaking to the club's official website, Buffon said: “Rivals can only be a good thing for us. With certain players, the more they’re put under pressure, the better they perform.

"Now it can’t be taken for granted that Juve will win the Scudetto. At the end of December it seemed as if we’d already won the championship because there weren’t any rivals.

"Now they’ve revealed themselves. Knowing that you can’t put a foot wrong brings added motivation.”

Meanwhile, the Italy international also paid tribute to Napoli and their coach Walter Mazzarri.

He added: “Napoli are a complete team. They have played together for many years and possess an excellent coach along with important individuals. They’ve got everything in place to fight for the Scudetto.

“But we won’t stand back and watch. We need to play in a convincing manner as we did up until a month ago. At which point the others can do whatever they like…"

Napoli face Lazio in a top-of-the-table clash on February 9, while Juventus host Vincenzo Montella's Fiorentina.