Iker Casillas and Xavi Hernandez are two of a kind

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Iker Casillas and Xavi Hernandez might be from opposite sides of the Spanish football divide, but they are most certainly cut from the same cloth.

One club men, both are the embodiment of their respective clubs, upholding both sporting and personal values.

That they have both arrived at the Champions League appearance record (144) in the same week gives their tale some sort of synergy.

But it might not be too long before at least one of these exemplars depart the scene for pastures new.

Played more football than anyone else

Casillas hadn't enjoyed the best of times at Real Madrid over the last couple of years, but he has managed to claw his way back to prominence and hold of the challenge of Keylor Navas for the right to hold the number one jersey.

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Xavi on the other hand is having his playing time restricted giving rise to the rumours that he is MLS bound in the New Year.

It's hard to judge who's lost would be felt the most.

Barney Ronay of The Guardian certainly made a decent case for Barcelona's pass master:

No footballer has ever played such a decisive role in victory at three major international tournaments, or defined so clearly the dominant club team of the age.

Xavi has won 25 major trophies, made more than 180 assists for more than 50 team-mates at Barcelona, and has over the last six years passed the ball more than anybody else, run more than anybody else, and basically played more football than any other human being anywhere.

When it's put in such simple terms, you wonder how Barca will ever set about replacing him when in truth there is no one anywhere close to being able to do so.

Even if he has lost a yard of pace, his football brain is still as sharp as ever, and you can't buy that sort of nous.

Equilibrium restored

It's understood that Xavi is in the autumn of his career but if the Blaugrana do decide to let him go out to pasture, it could be a decision that comes back to bite them on the backside.

Because whenever Xavi is on the pitch, dictating, probing, involved, there is a calmness to Barca's build up play. A purpose.

How many times have we seen a performance from the Catalans that's going nowhere but as soon as the ringmaster arrives, the equilibrium is restored.

Being a custodian will probably mean that Casillas' own shelf life can continue for a few more years yet.

Not ready to retire yet

The only barrier to a prolonged Los Blancos career would be a serious drop in form or a decision from the manager to "look to the future" and begin to develop Navas in the role.

Casillas too has been synonymous with Real's successes over the last few seasons, and despite the ferocity with which the Clasico's were played during the Mourinho era, the calmness that both brought to their sides in the heat of battle was noticeable.

As we approach another international break, we are faced with the unpalatable truth. That time waits for no man.

Enjoy these two while you can.

Real Madrid
Iker Casillas
La Liga

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