By Iain Rogers
MADRID, Oct 22 (Reuters) - As European heavyweights Juventus and Real Madrid prepare for Wednesday's Champions League clash at the Bernabeu, Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon has questioned the Spanish side's 'galactico' transfer policy.
The 35-year-old Italy goalkeeper, who played under Real coach and compatriot Carlo Ancelotti in a Juve team featuring his current assistant Zinedine Zidane, backed Ancelotti to cope with the huge pressure of expectation at the nine-times continental champions.
However, he suggested luring the world's top players like record signings Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, who alone cost almost 200 million euros ($274 million), to the Spanish capital was not enough to guarantee success in the modern game.
"The philosophy of 10 years ago remains the same, buy great champions, entertain the fans and maintain the historic prestige of Real Madrid," Buffon said in an interview with Spanish sports daily Marca published on Monday.
"But the reality is that in football, above all now, that's not enough to win," he added.
"It's better to have a project, balance and patience. Money is a good starting point but it's not enough in itself."
Real have splashed more than 600 million euros on players over the past five years in a bid to secure the 10th European crown - known as the 'decima' in Spain - they have been chasing since they last won the Champions League in 2002.
Their outlay is almost three times as much as European and Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, who have spent 227 million, according to the latest Prime Time Sport Football Transfer Review published last month.
Only English Premier League side Manchester City come close with an outlay of 549 million, while Juve have spent the most of any Serie A club with 274 million.
Real are a work in progress under Ancelotti, who replaced Jose Mourinho at the end of last season, and face a challenging week with Wednesday's game against the Italian champions followed by Saturday's La Liga 'Clasico' at Barcelona.
Ancelotti promised attacking, entertaining football at his presentation but has yet to get the best from his expensively assembled squad and their domestic campaign has begun in stuttering fashion.
They are flying in Europe, however, following thrashings of Group B rivals Galatasaray and FC Copenhagen in their opening two matches, and victory against Juve will put them seven points clear of the Turin-based side with three games remaining.
If Real win and the other match, between Galatasaray and Copenhagen, is a draw, the Madrid club would be virtually guaranteed a place in the last 16.
Buffon said the experience Ancelotti has gained as a twice Champions League winner with AC Milan and from his stints in England and France would help him cope with the Real job, one of the most demanding in football.
"I don't think anyone knows better how to deal with tense situations and the challenges of winning," he told Marca.
"No club in the world is obliged to win more than Real Madrid but I think Ancelotti is someone who always finds solutions," he added.
Real closed to within three points of La Liga leaders Barca thanks to Saturday's 2-0 win at home to Malaga, when Bale came off the bench in the second half and won a penalty to mark his return from injury.
Ronaldo converted the spot kick, his eighth goal of the domestic campaign, and the Portuguese forward, Champions League top scorer last season, already has five to his name in two appearances in Europe this term.
"If we can play our game, we are a team who plays at a high tempo, which pressures high up the pitch, very well organised," Buffon said.
"But all that can go out the window the moment Cristiano Ronaldo ... gets the ball, beats three players and scores."
Juve coach Antonio Conte, who also played under Ancelotti for the Italian champions, needs to lift his players after they crashed to a first defeat of the Serie A season on Sunday.
Conte's men conceded four goals in the final 14 minutes to lose 4-2 at Fiorentina, the first time they had four put past them under the 44-year-old. ($1 = 0.7302 euros) (Editing by Patrick Johnston)
- Sports & Recreation
- Real Madrid
- Gianluigi Buffon
- Carlo Ancelotti
- Cristiano Ronaldo