IF there's anyone still wondering what Italy's intentions are at this European Championship, they need look no further than Gianluigi Buffon's angry reaction after the Azzurri's semi-final win over Germany.
While his team-mates celebrated, Buffon (pictured) could not look past the way Italy allowed a penalty kick in injury-time of a 2-1 win, plus a few other chances that could have sent the match to extra-time.
"I don't celebrate second place," Buffon said. "I was angry, because we should have avoided those last five minutes of sufferance. We need to be mature. Football is a game, but when you reach the semi-finals of a European Championship it's not a game any more."
One of the pillars of Italy's 2006 World Cup victory, Buffon can add another trophy with a win over Spain in Sunday's final, which will mark his 120th appearance in the Azzurri shirt.
With more than a decade as the Azzurri's starting goalkeeper, Buffon's experience and talent has been evident throughout this tournament. However, as Italy sat back and attempted to preserve their semi-final lead, the Azzurri defence began to struggle and Federico Balzaretti used his arm to block a shot from Miroslav Klose, setting up Mesut Ozil's penalty with a few minutes remaining.
"If by luck it got to 2-2, we could have lost the match on penalties," Buffon said. "We still need to improve. There are young players who need to learn."
Buffon came under attack before Italy departed for the tournament over large payments made to the owner of a betting parlour. These revelations, along with match-fixing claims towards another player, shook the camp.
"Coming here, playing a semi-final was unthinkable," Buffon said.