Iker Casillas: Not The Goalkeeper He Once Was?By: Toni Matthews-El - June 15, 2014
It’s a scoreline that stunned World Cup watchers across the globe. But then, who wouldn’t be stunned?
Spain has become practically synonymous with outstanding football over the past decade. This view was largely aided by their ability to collect international trophies back-to-back.
Two Spanish teams hailing from capital city Madrid fought it out for the 2014 Champions League title.
A few weeks later, it feels as if the footballing nation has been knocked off its perch.
While no one had outright predicted that Spain would be gliding to another World Cup win (all the pressure is on host nation Brazil at the moment), the Spanish team is made up of some of the best athletes in the world.
This includes captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
In 2010, when Spain and the Netherlands met in the World Cup final, Casillas ably stopped every ball that came his way. Four years later, he let in 5 amazing goals from a rampant Netherlands team.
It was the worst loss ever suffered by a defending champion in the history of the tournament. Humbled and humiliated, the Spanish captain was moved to issue a public apology for his role in the defeat.
Despite the gesture, Spain manager Vicente del Bosque doesn’t believe that the team captain should shoulder all the blame for Friday’s shoddy performance.
Said Del Bosque, “If a team loses it’s not down to the performance of a single player.”
This is an important observation. Where were Casillas’s defenders? There were four other men in front of him tasked with keeping the opposition from scoring. If the 33-year-old goalkeeper failed, it’s because others failed him.
Still, it must be noted that Casillas has had difficulty maintaining a starting position in his Real Madrid team. Already there are whispers that it’s because Casillas is “past his time”.
This is an unfair comment as Casillas was benched largely because Carlos Ancelotti wasn’t sure what to do about a controversy he inherited from former Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho. That much time spent on the bench over two years can take a toll on a player’s ability, even one as world class as Casillas.
Are we witnessing a lack of time in goal catch up with the Spanish captain?
Perhaps. Or it could be as simple as Spain having an off day at the worst possible time.
On Wednesday, Spain faces Chile in a must-win match; their South American opponents already have one victory under their belts. A draw could doom the Spanish side; a loss would most definitely knock them out of the World Cup.
It will be a make or break moment for Iker Casillas and the rest of the Spanish team.
Do You Think Del Bosque Should Bench Casillas Against Chile? Comment Below!
Image via Wikimedia Commons