A selection problem has always existed at Real Madrid, but the one involving the goalkeeping position is a rather new concept. Ali Al-Hassan puts some perspective on the situation.
Fame cannot be achieved without its fair share of drama. Real Madrid has achieved a major standard since its founding in 1902. Whether it is concentrated on transfer rumors or on the mood of a certain player, the media will always find their ways to get all the latest information on one of the biggest teams currently active in the beautiful game.
The past couple of seasons have been focused on a position that once was unspeakable, the position that Iker Casillas has dominated for many years. The controversy that surrounds Real Madrid at the moment is concentrated on the goalkeeping dilemma as Iker Casillas and Diego Lopez both have had their ups and downs during the past couple of seasons with the team. The main problem now is the arrival of Keylor Navas. A third goalkeeper only makes things more problematic for all three players involved.
Being a Real Madrid supporter in general is quite difficult no matter what the circumstances are. But, when it comes to the transfer windows, the irritation turns up a notch as the rumors circulate with practically every big name in the world of football is connected with the club. It isn’t unusual to see the club make transfer decisions that fans don’t agree with as it has slightly become the norm among many of the European clubs around. When focusing on the goalkeeping situation at the Santiago Bernabeu now though, things have reached a point of confusion and extreme speculation.
First, you have Iker Casillas. This is a man who certainly needs no introduction as he was nicknamed Saint Iker by the fans after everything he has achieved at the club of his dreams. Only a few years ago, no one would have even imagined that they would end up watching a game where their ‘Saint’ wouldn’t be the man standing between the sticks. You can replace Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Hierro, or even Cristiano Ronaldo, but you cannot replace Saint Iker Casillas. Well, the times have changed and he has been having a nightmare for the past two seasons.
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First, it was the problems with Jose Mourinho, then it was the injury inflicted by Alvaro Arbeloa, then it was the arrival of Diego Lopez, and then it was the choice by Carlo Ancelotti to play him in only cup games. Things went downhill for the Spanish captain but, after being able to lead the team to the Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League titles, he was headed to the World Cup in Brazil as things seemed to finally be looking up again. Until ofcourse the Spanish national team collapsed in the most spectacular fashion, losing 5-1 to Netherlands and 2-0 to Chile with Iker Casillas in goal on both occasions.
With that said, he came back to Madrid as Carlo Ancelotti made it clear that he was still depending on the club captain; but his performance in the 3-1 loss to Manchester United during a friendly game in the United States showed it all. True, it was a friendly, but there is no doubting the fact that his self-confidence is nowhere to be seen. He has made many mistakes during the past season but they went slightly unnoticed since Real Madrid were still able to come out with wins. When they lose though, the performances are taken into perspective with a magnifying glass and it was the Saint, Iker Casillas, who was the man most looked at.
Diego Lopez is a man who has made it clear that he wants to stay at the club no matter what happens. He has never complained and was always able to give his best performances whenever he was counted on. Lopez was given the task of playing in the La Liga games during the past season and he was able to come out with stellar performances. Of course, it wasn’t a perfect stint as he too was to blame for errors leading to goals that were conceded. Still, one thing is clear when comparing the two goalkeepers and it is that Diego Lopez is a lot more confident than Iker Casillas at the moment.
Whether Diego Lopez is better or not isn’t something we can talk about right now mainly because we cannot compare a performance in the league to a performance in the cups. The way it is organized is completely different and therefore it makes things a little complicated when trying to put two goalkeepers up against each other.
Last, but certainly not least, is Keylor Navas. The Costa Rican goalkeeper arrives at Real Madrid after a magnificent World Cup as he will look to continue his incredible form over the past one year and convince Carlo Ancelotti to put him in goal. He has the skill and determination to prove that he belongs in the starting lineup. One main advantage that Navas has is his age as he is still only 27-years-old (a decent age for a goal-keeper) while Diego Lopez is 32 and Iker Casillas is a year older than that.
Now, it certainly isn’t my place to decide who should start for Real Madrid but, at the moment, it seems as though Iker Casillas will be facing the most difficult challenge when compared to the other two goalkeepers. With that said, it is difficult for Real Madrid to let go of a player who has given so much for the team and the supporters face the same dilemma. Maybe this isn’t the end of Iker Casillas but all signs are not pointing to a very promising spot for the Los Blancos captain right now. As for Diego Lopez, he may end up leaving for the sole purpose that he isn’t as “big” as Casillas is while new signing Navas competes for top spot in the side.
One thing is for sure: Carlo Ancelotti is living a beautiful dream with three world-class goalkeepers; he needs to deal with it in a way that could be a nightmare for many others.
Written by Ali Al-Hasan. Follow him on Twitter @RMadrid37
You can read all our articles in our Real Madrid blog, The Royal Pages, here. Share your thoughts on the goalkeeping issue at Real with a comment below.
- Should Real Madrid stick to Keylor Navas? - March 31, 2016
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- Casillas, Lopez & Navas. Who’ll emerge in Real Madrid’s goalkeeping dilemma? - August 9, 2014