Stringing Fifa Coins together 21 wins on the bounce is another source of pride and cause for high spirits, but Casillas is eager not to get carried away: “Winning 21 games in a row is very difficult, but we have to keep our feet on the ground and be mindful that this run won’t last forever. One day a defeat or draw will come, but we’re not thinking beyond Saturday’s match and getting win number 22. What’s important is for us to win on Saturday because if we don’t, I can guarantee you that all the headlines in the papers will look different.”
The 33-year-old speaks from experience. Having been the darling of the fans, the press and – give or take the odd moment out of favour – his coaches since bursting on to the scene aged 18 in 1999, the club captain has learned all about the whims of fortune over the last two seasons. After being dropped by Jose Mourinho in January 2013, he was restricted to just 26 appearances in the 2012/13 campaign, while Carlo Ancelotti handed him only 24 starts last term. On the back of a poor 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil?, this season did not look to be shaping up too promisingly, especially with Costa Rican World Cup sensation Keylor Navas brought in. As it is, Casillas has featured in 21 of the 25 fixtures for which he has been available.