Iker Casillas is not completely at fault for the devastating loss Spain suffered against Netherlands, but he is a huge part of it. Although Casillas is an amazing goalkeeper and Spain’s longtime captain, his performance last night was an embarrassment to himself and to his country. Even though Netherlands were the underdogs in the match, Spain knew it would not be an easy match; however, anyone who says they weren’t surprised by the result is a liar.
Spain’s offense continues to struggle to hit the net. It has no one to lead the team in offense, and now its defense has failed it. Although Spain has some of the best midfielders in the world, nothing can be done if defenders and goalkeepers cannot keep up with a young team like Netherlands. Spain is full of veteran players, but personally I was happy with the lineup. I would have never expected a 33-year-old Casillas to not be able to keep up physically.
If you watched the match, you saw Casillas — the starting goalkeeper and captain for the UEFA Champions League title holders Real Madrid — struggle to keep up. He may not be the player he once was, but before the match against Netherlands, I would have said he was the best goalkeeper in the world. I’m not sure what happened, but Casillas looked exhausted. He’d dive and miss a save, and then get up too slowly — or not at all. His face was heartbreaking to watch after the ball hit the net time after time. There was nothing he could do.
I don’t know why Vincente del Bosque didn’t pull him out earlier. It wasn’t just mistakes, but it seems that he couldn’t stay on his feet. So now, Del Bosque has a decision to make. Will he let Casillas try to redeem himself against Chile, or will he call on one of the backups to take his place. Seeing how the loss against Netherlands makes its match against Chile crucial to staying in the World Cup, he should let Casillas take a breather.
The pain of missing Victor Valdes is now felt greater than ever; he would have been Spain’s savior. Luckily, Spain has two other extraordinary backups. Pepe Reina has proven his skill time and time again, and David de Gea may be a rookie, but he defends for Manchester United in the EPL and is ready. Reina should be the one to take over guarding the net. Even if its just for the match against Chile to allow Casillas to recollect himself, and see if he should continue playing in the World Cup.