Only topping the group would guarantee Italy a spot in next summer's tournament, but second would be enough for the playoffs, and Buffon is confident that the Azzurri will make the finals regardless of the route.
"We believe and hope to go to the World Cup," Buffon told TMW Radio. "There is a year ahead of us, there will be training camps to refine certain mechanisms. There are values in this squad that don't always emerge."
Italy's final three 2018 World Cup qualifiers are against Israel (H), Macedonia (H) and Albania (A).