1. Iker Casillas had a chastening start to life in the UEFA Champions League, conceding three goals on his competition debut, a draw at Olympiacos in September 1999. Indeed, after six outings he had picked the ball out of his net no fewer than 15 times. However, all’s well that ends well – by the end of the season he was a UEFA Champions League winner, the youngest keeper to play in a final.
2. Gianluigi Buffon was 19 when he made his competition bow for Parma in 1997/98 (the only one of his 13 UEFA Champions League campaigns that have not come with Juventus).
3. Some 29 players have made 100 or more UEFA Champions League appearances over the years but, slightly surprisingly given their longevity, there are only five goalkeepers among them: Buffon (101), Oliver Kahn (103), Víctor Valdés (106), Petr Čech (111) and Casillas (163). Casillas’s tally is a competition record for all positions, 11 higher than the next man, Xavi Hernández. Interestingly, Buffon and Casillas have the same number of international caps: 167.
4. Casillas has won the European Cup three times, the same number as Víctor Valdés (Barcelona), Ray Clemence (Liverpool), Sepp Maier (Bayern München) and Heinz Stuy (Ajax). Only one keeper has won more: Juan Alonso, Real Madrid’s mainstay at the back through their run of five successive victories between 1956 and 1960. Buffon has never lifted it but has been runner-up twice, most recently 2015.
5. Casillas has kept a record 57 clean sheets in the UEFA Champions League but his percentage of games with one pales by comparison to Buffon: 35% to the Italian’s 42%. Any idea who leads the way among goalkeepers who have made at least 50 outings in the competition? Kudos if you said Edwin van der Sar (52%) and Dida (49%).
One game, two #UCL legends:
Buffon: 102 apps, 43 clean sheets 🙌
Casillas: 163 apps, 57 clean sheets 🙌
— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 14, 2017
6. Casillas has had the better of eight international clashes between the pair (three wins to Buffon’s one), most notably the UEFA EURO 2012 final, but the Italian has had more to celebrate at club level. Folowing the first leg of this tie, they have now met nine times (four wins for Buffon, three for Casillas with Real Madrid) with Buffon’s team prevailing in all three previous knockout ties.
7. Casillas and Buffon have participated in just one penalty shoot-out apiece in the competition over years – each lost. Casillas’s spot-kick woe came in the 2011/12 semi-finals when saves from Toni Kroos and Philipp Lahm could not prevent a 3-1 defeat by Bayern. Buffon also kept out two penalties in the 2003 final but he too was denied, going down 3-2 to AC Milan.
8. Buffon has twice kept five successive UEFA Champions League clean sheets, and his 2004/05 run of 559 minutes is a personal best. Casillas’s longest run was four, in 2011/12, when he went 476 minutes without picking the ball out of his net. Neither’s runs got close to Jens Lehmann’s competition best of 853 minutes.
9. Neither Buffon nor Casillas have ever been sent off in a UEFA Champions League game and between them they have picked up only seven yellow cards. Buffon has not been booked in 73 outings in the competition.
10. Buffon was named in the UEFA.com Team of the Year in January, returning to the all-star XI after a nine-year absence. At 39, he is the oldest ever player to make the cut. Either he or Casillas, 35, have been No1 in ten of the last 14 years. They will have to keep going a while longer if they want recognition as the UEFA Champions League’s oldest player: Marco Ballotta was 43 years and 253 days when he started for Lazio against Real Madrid in 2007.