By ESPNSTAR.com staff
The draw against Bulgaria was a disappointing result for the Italians, who were expected to be favourites after their strong performance at Euro 2012.
However, a rare goalkeeping error from Buffon gifted Bulgaria a goal and the Azzurri never seemed to gain the upper hand in the match against ostensibly poorer opponents, prompting many fans to question the team.
Buffon and Pirlo, both of them sharing 45 years worth of international experience between them, has moved to play down expectations, reassuring that an away point at Bulgaria is a good reward for a team recovering from a major tournament.
"It is right to accept criticism of a technician when the evidence is there for all to see, but I will tell you that at the end of the qualifying period, a point in Bulgaria will have its worth," Buffon told Corriere dello Sport.
"The first match of the national team after the break [between tournaments] has always been the most difficult," Pirlo added.
"But the game in Sofia is now forgotten. [We] do not try to justify it, and do not believe the praise from the European Championships has affected us negatively.
"All points are important, but let's start making things right on Tuesday [when Italy play Malta]."