Veteran Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas headed into Friday’s match against the Netherlands with one thing weighing heavily on his mind: propelling his team ahead in their quest for a second consecutive World Cup. That said, while he's most concerned with grabbing three vital points against the Dutch no matter the score line, Robin van Persie ended any hope of Casillas breaking former Italian keeper Walter Zenga’s all-time World Cup record of 518 minutes without conceding a goal, by heading home a fantastic effort late in the first half of Friday's match.
A stalwart for the Spanish during their recent period of dominance, Casillas played a crucial role in Spain’s triumphs during Euro 2008 and 2012, as well as the 2010 World Cup. An organizer benefited by a team which emphasizes possession, some claim Casillas has less to do on the pitch than other goalkeepers, with Spain ‘s absurd possession share regularly enabling Casillas to file his taxes in the midst of matches.
Nevertheless, Casillas has consistently performed well when called upon, justifying his leadership role in a team filled with some of the game’s most prominent players. And let’s be honest here: Walter Zenga played for Italy from 1987 to 1992, a period of catenaccio and negative tactics. You won’t find this on Wikipedia, but it’s a proven fact that Walter Zenga was so rarely called upon that he actually didn’t appear on the field during a number of matches, preferring to watch from the comfort of his own home.
Nevertheless, a cleansheet against the Dutch proved a tough ask, with Robin van Persie interrupting an impressive streak, especially in the modern era.
[Photos: Best World Cup images of the day]
With that record past us, it might be a better bet to focus on a number of other records set to be broken during this World Cup:
- With one World Cup appearance, Casillas will level Andoni Zubizarreta’s record for the most World Cup appearances by a Spanish goalkeeper
- With four World Cup appearances, Casillas will break Sepp Maier’s record for the most World Cup appearances by any goalkeeper
- If Spain win the World Cup, Casillas will become the first team captain to lift the World Cup twice
- With one goal, Germany's Miroslav Klose will level Fenomeno Ronaldo's record for most World Cup goals with 15
- With one World Cup appearance, Andrea Prilo will break the record for greatest Man Beard ever seen during the tournament
- If the United States advance past the group stage at the expense of Germany, Jurgen Klinsmann and the German government will break the record for "quickest citizenship repealed"
- If Michael Ballack uses a tanning bed one more time during the World Cup, he will become the first human to have a skin tone in the ultraviolet color range
- If the English win the World Cup, they will break the World Cup record for most instances of "you're joking" spoken aloud simultaneously