It's Time Vicente Del Bosque Ditched Iker Casillas For David De Gea

It’s Time Vicente Del Bosque Ditched Iker Casillas For David De Gea

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By Andreas Vou (@AndreasVou89)

The 5-1 drubbing at the hands of the Netherlands in last summer’s World Cup was the beginning of the realization that Spain needed a huge overhaul after years of unprecedented success, and that the goalkeeper would be a good place to start. 

While David de Gea was given a rare start in a friendly against the Netherlands on Tuesday, the two recent international matches still show that Vicente del Bosque sees Iker Casillas as his number one, starting him in the European qualifier against Ukraine.

With De Gea emerging as one of the best keepers in the world and Casillas nowhere near his best, it seems like a change of guard in the Spanish goal would be the obvious move, but strangely not to the national team boss.

This campaign, despite regaining his no.1 spot for Real Madrid, Casillas’ rocky form has further reinforced the notion that he cannot be depended upon to make those decisive, match-winning, tournament-saving stops.

Casillas has been pivotal to Spain’s glory in recent years earning the nickname of ‘San Iker’ due to his miraculous saves at critical moments which helped Spain win three back to back major tournaments.  Without his saves in the penalty shoot-out against Italy in the Euro 2008 quarter-finals, his penalty save in the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals against Paraguay and his infamous one-on-one stop later in the final of the tournament to deny Arjen Robben, Spain’s success would have been implausible.

While those and countless other moments will not be forgotten, his performance levels in recent years have taken a steep decline and is very unlikely to ever reach those levels again.

On the other hand, De Gea’s form has proven he is ready for the number one jersey. No longer just a hot prospect we saw come through the ranks at Atletico Madrid, he has developed into the world class stopper who many knew he could become. 

Voted Manchester United’s player of the year last season in what was his club’s worst ever Premier League finish, De Gea has maintained those sky high standards this season too, with a host of man of the match performances which have kept his club in the hunt for Champions League football.

For all of United’s stars – Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao, Juan Mata and the sorts – it is De Gea who has taken the plaudits in big games against the likes of rivals Arsenal say and Liverpool home – reminiscent of Casillas bailing out the defensive shortfalls of the galacticos in his day, which is little wonder that De Gea has been so heavily linked with replacing him at club level too. 

It is for his reliability in the big moments that the 24-year-old is needed for his country which the great Real Madrid man can no longer produce. 

Spain’s failure at the World Cup was a bold sign that an overhaul was required whereby a number of the old guard needed to be replaced. Del Bosque has traditionally been loyal to his long-serving players despite many not being at their best going into major tournaments and only seems to make decisions which have been made for him.

Koke and Isco are two of the most promising players in their positions and at 23 and 22 years old respectively are ready to take on the mantle of Spanish legends Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta. The pair have become starters for Spain but only after Xabi Alonso and Xavi’s announced their retirements from international football. It leaves doubts in the mind as to whether the youngsters would be starters now had the veterans still been available for international duty.

With Casillas soldiering on at 33 years of age, the Spanish boss has yet to muster the courage to replace him with De Gea whose time has certainly come to take over the position full-time.

With the European Championships in France coming up next year, it would be a missed opportunity not to make the obvious transition from Casillas to De Gea but, instead, Del Bosque is risking similar consequences to those of last summer. 

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