Legendary keepers do battle in Euro 2012 final

The world's top two goalkeepers, Iker Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon, go head-to-head in the final of Euro 2012, so we take a look at their big-tournament records for Spain and Italy.

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Not only are they regarded as the best custodians in modern football, but many believe Casillas and Buffon to be among the greatest of all time.

Both are World Cup winners, with Casillas also a European Champion, although Buffon was a beaten finalist back in 2000.

Both have a plethora of club titles with Real Madrid and Juventus respectively, teams they have stayed with for over a decade, despite Buffon suffering relegation with his side.

But how do they match up at the major tournaments? We’ve taken a look at their records for the 2006 World Cup, Euro 2004, Euro 2008 and this tournament. We have selected these tournaments because both keepers were first choice at all of them.

The stats make interesting reading – across the tournaments, the duo have near-identical minutes-per-goal-conceded ratios: Casillas is on 166 minutes and 36 seconds, with Buffon on 166 minutes and 24 seconds.

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However, at Euro 2012, Casillas reaps the benefit of a miserly Spanish defence and domination of possession – his four clean sheets and sole goal conceded are in part the result of only having had to face 12 shots all tournament. Therefore, his superior minutes-per-goal of 480 for this event can be attributed to the collective.

Buffon has a higher save-to-shot ratio overall, but he has faced considerably more shots over the four tournaments: 82 to Casillas’s 44. That is almost double the work.

The same applies to his Euro 2012 tournament – whereas Casillas has only faced 12 shots, Buffon has had to deal with 21, so his inferior minutes-per-goal of 160 can be attributed to Italy’s lesser dominance of games.

What is clear without statistics is that both are excellent goalkeepers, capable of turning it on for the big matches and – crucially – of keeping concentration when untested for large swathes of a tournament.

How they perform will be vital to their teams’ hopes – but the chances are that neither will let their country down.

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