Buffon twisted his ankle in Friday's training session and, though coach Cesare Prandelli was confident he would be fit for the clash, Italian media said on Saturday the keeper would be unable to recover in time for the 6 p.m. ET (2200 GMT) kick off. Mass circulation daily newspapers Gazzetta dello Sport and Corrierre dello Sport said Paris St Germain stopper Salvatore Sirigu would take Buffon's place in the starting lineup.
Italian soccer federation press officials were not immediately available for comment but Buffon all but confirmed his absence. The keeper tweeted a link to a social network site Whosay.com, saying: "life is beautiful and I am still in debt to it. Missing one game or missing another World Cup isn't going to change that.
"There are a lot of ways to be important even if you aren't on the field. So, come on Salvatore! Come on magic lads." The Italian federation (FIGC) issued a statement on its website confirming that Buffon had suffered an injury.
"Gianluigi Buffon suffered a slight ankle sprain and is undergoing treatment," said the FIGC on its website. The injury to 36-year-old Buffon, who won the 2006 World Cup with Italy, is a further blow to the Azzurri after fullback Mattia De Sciglio was ruled out of the game with a thigh injury.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic, additional reporting by Brian Homewood and Simon Evans; Editing by Ken Ferris and Justin Palmer)