Juventus
    Juventus
      20.02.2017 15:30 - in: Champions League S

      Buffon and Casillas: honour and respect

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      The reunion of Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas in Portugal on Wednesday represents one of the most intriguing sub-plots of this season’s Champions League

      Nothing brings a smile to the face of supporters quite as effectively as a demonstration of respect and admiration from one of their favourite stars to another.

      Simultaneously, no other competition in club football is capable of consistently igniting the same passion and thrill factor as the Champions League.

      The excitement then when Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas exchanged messages of support on Twitter in the aftermath of the tournament’s last 16 draw in December which pitted Juventus and Porto against each other, was entirely justified. 

      Responding to an open question posed by the UCL’s official page as to which goalkeeper was the best, Casillas’ self-effacing choice was Buffon who quickly replied that in a contest between two of the game’s greatest goalkeepers, there is no need - nor way - to select a winner.

      Rather, all you can do is acknowledge that as a pair, they are unrivalled. 

      Of all the sub-plots weaved into the Champions League’s eight first knockout round ties, the reunion of Buffon and Casillas is one of the most intriguing of the lot, one whose numbers – as with any analysis of Juve’s number one – speak for themselves. 

      Three years the Spaniard’s elder, the Bianconeri skipper will be making his 145th continental appearance on Wednesday night at Porto’s Estadio do Dragao, the 827th overall in a career now spanning over 20 years, a feat recognised in typically gracious fashion by the Porto stopper back in November 2015.

      By his own admission in a recent interview with UEFA, the 14-year old Casillas looked up to the 18-year old Buffon who at that time was already making his first European appearance with Parma in the UEFA Cup, commenting “I was able to see (Buffon’s) style and personality. As I grew up, I looked up to him and then we evolved together and had similar careers. I think Italian football won’t have another goalkeeper like him.”

      Since then the two players have gone on to win 42 major trophies between them, including a World Cup each as leaders of their nations, Buffon’s Italy in Germany in 2006, Casillas’ Spain in South Africa in 2010. 

      Given their respective histories, it should come as no surprise that every meeting between the pair is of the utmost importance. 

      This week’s clash in northern Portugal – in keeping with previous encounters for its significance - will mark the ninth time that the two legendary keepers have taken to the field together in the Champions League, including two semi-finals and two quarter-finals, ties won on both occasions by the Bianconeri. 

      Date

      Team Buffon

      Team Casillas

      Goals Team Buffon

      Goals Team Casillas

      Result

      6 May 2003

      Juventus

      Real Madrid

      1

      2

      Casillas

      14 May 2003

      Juventus

      Real Madrid

      3

      1

      Buffon

      22 February 2005

      Juventus

      Real Madrid

      0

      1

      Casillas

      9 March 2005

      Juventus

      Real Madrid

      2

      0

      Buffon

      22 June 2008

      Italy

      Spain

      0

      0

      Draw (Spain 4-2 on penalties)

      10 June 2012

      Italy

      Spain

      1

      1

      Draw

      1 July 2012

      Italy

      Spain

      0

      4

      Casillas

      27 June 2013

      Italy

      Spain

      0

      0

      Draw (Spain 7-6 on penalties)

      23 October 2013

      Juventus

      Real Madrid

      1

      2

      Casillas

      5 November 2013

      Juventus

      Real Madrid

      2

      2

      Draw

      5 May 2015

      Juventus

      Real Madrid

      2

      1

      Buffon

      13 May 2015

      Juventus

      Real Madrid

      1

      1

      Draw

      Whatever happens in Porto on Wednesday night, one thing is certain: two legends of their trade will compete, embrace as old friends at full time and write the latest chapter in a story already distinguished by mutual respect, endless success and admiration.

      May the best man win... 

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