Is Iker Casillas In Decline?
No one can deny the impact Iker Casillas has had for club and country, but have we seen the best years of Casillas behind him?
He has been Real Madrid’s no. 1 since 1999 and has never been challenged until now. Casillas has amassed a staggering 149 caps for Spain at international level. Casillas has been captain for club and country for so long that even great goalkeepers like Victor Valdes, Pepe Reina and the youthful David De Gea can’t get a sniff in net for the national side, which makes sense to an extent.
Casillas was once considered the standard for goalkeepers at the club level, having won numerous La Liga titles, a Champions League crown and a few cup titles to cement his legacy in Spain. Casillas has been outstanding at the international level, leading the way for the last two European championship titles and the last World Cup victory for Spain.
The argument for Casillas’ decline has come at club level. Last season, he was benched by Jose Mourinho for Diego Lopez and never got a chance to play under the Portuguese boss again. Many people thought it was inconceivable that someone as accomplished as Casillas could ever be benched.
To Mourinho’s credit, Casillas was awful in net at times for Real Madrid and felt he had to hold Casillas to the same standard he expected of his other players.
Many thought Mourinho just didn’t like Casillas and held a grudge against him. But now that Carlo Ancelloti, the new Real Madrid manager, has picked Lopez over Casillas too, those conspiracy theories seem to have fallen by the wayside. Lopez has simply been in better form than Casillas over these past two seasons and deserves to be higher in the pecking order.
Should Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque consider not playing Casillas based on his current form, even though he has been brilliant in goal for the National side? Valdes, Reina and De Gea are all in better form and are undisputed no. 1 goalkeepers at club level right now.
With World Cup Qualifiers coming up, shouldn’t a national team manager select players based on performance at club level? If Casillas can’t even get games at club level, should he even be considered as Spain’s no. 1 anymore?