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Shevchenko backs Buffon to break Champions League duck with PSG

11:30 EAT 06/03/2019
Gianluigi Buffon PSG 2018-19
Despite having lifted the World Cup, nine Serie A titles and the UEFA Cup, the 41-year-old is yet to win Europe's premier club competition

Gianluigi Buffon can finally fulfill his dream of winning the Champions League at Paris Saint-Germain, says former AC Milan and Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko.

PSG take a 2-0 lead into Wednesday evening's last-16 second-leg clash against Manchester United  after they dominated the Red Devils in the first meeting on February 12.

Although winning Europe's elite club competition is the main objective of PSG's Qatari-based backers, the European title has so far evaded them - just as it has their veteran goalkeeper Buffon.

The 41-year-old has won the World Cup, nine Serie A titles, five Coppa Italia titles and the UEFA Cup, with the latter coming in 1998-99 for Parma. 

And when asked whether he thinks Buffon can finally win the Champions League with PSG, Shevchenko told Goal: "Well that last game they played [against Man Utd] was a display of the strength that PSG has.

"The fact that even though a few very important players were missing, they were able to win in Old Trafford against Manchester United. 

"Without [Edinson] Cavani and without Neymar the team was able, especially in the second half, to play really well. They are definitely another one of the teams that could reach this year’s Champions League final."

Elsewhere defending champions Real Madrid have struggled for form this season after losing Cristiano Ronaldo.

They are 12 points back from La Liga leaders Barcelona after suffering a Clasico defeat on Saturday and were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by the same opposition at the semi-final stage. 

Los Blancos were also dumped out of the Champions League by Ajax, with Santiago Solari's side suffering an embarrassing 4-1 defeat at the Bernabeu on Tuesday night. 

Asked who faces the greatest challenge out of Real and Ronaldo on the European stage, Shevchenko said: "Well it’s a challenge for both. It was his decision to leave and come to Italy. He’s been proving himself in a tough league.

"He’s doing very well and truly playing for the team. Of course he will always score, but you can see that he worked hard and fit in well with the squad. He is behaving exceptionally."

Shevchenko's Milan side pipped Juventus to the Champions League title in 2002-03, beating the Bianconeri 3-2 on penalties after full time and extra-time had yielded a goalless draw. 

The former Ukraine international scored the winning spot-kick that day.

But Shevchenko believes Juve are capable of lifting the trophy this year despite their 2-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their own last-16 clash.

"Well I think that Juventus in the last five years has played twice in the final and that alone is already a great result," he continued.

"Obviously we all know that even if you get to the final, winning it is always difficult. Still, the club and the team have always shown continuous growth.

"In the last seven or eight years they’ve been the strongest side in Italy and a club that has been able to create a solid project, a solid group. Despite the many changes they’ve had, they’ve always been able to maintain a high level.

"Actually they’ve been able to consistently get better. This year is the perfect year for them to go and win all the trophies."