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Juventus goalkeeper Buffon wonders about Celtic’s “peculiar situation”

Feb 12, 2013, 10:02 AM EDT

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon answers a question during a news conference ahead of their Champions League soccer match against Celtic, at Celtic Park stadium in Glasgow

Ahead of today’s Champions League contest at Celtic Park, legendary Italian and Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is voicing what we all might be wondering: What is the effect on Celtic of losing those bitterly contest, heart-hardening, character-building rivalry matches with Rangers?

The stunning financial collapse of Celtic’s historic antagonist – the Celtic-Rangers matchup is truly one of the world’s showpieces when it comes to contentious rivalries in the game – has stripped away the very contests that serve to steel the men in the famous green and white.

Buffon talked about the “peculiar situation” at yesterday’s news conference prior to today’s contest at Celtic Park.

He certainly has a point. Celtic’s 18-point lead in the Scottish Premier League is no surprise. (Once again underlining the odd disparity that rules Scotland’s top tier league, but that’s another story.)

Neil Lennon’s team is rarely, truly stretched in SPL matches. Since a 1-0 loss to Hibernian to finish calendar 2012, Celtic has won its five subsequent  SPL contests by a combined score of 16-3.

Said Buffon:

This is a very peculiar situation this year,’ he said, when asked about the absence of Old Firm games in Scotland. It would change from player to player, not having the psychological impact of so many high-tension matches. We often have high-pressure matches and, if you don’t for two or three weeks, you can let your guard down and it is very difficult to get that level of tension back again.”