Vicente Del Bosque faces a decision headache when it comes to selecting the 1st name on his team sheet this evening. Iker Casillas would normally be his 1st and only choice to play between the sticks. However, the stopper from Mostoles hasn’t played in a competitive match for his club side since January.
Victor Valdés has been in sparkling from for F.C. Barcelona at the start of this season and has been a key figure in Tata Martino’s 100% start to his career at the Camp Nou. He produced a number of top saves in Barça’s last league match against Valencia to secure a 2-3 win and was equally impressive in both legs of the Spanish Super Cup against Atlético Madrid.
Traditional reasoning would dictate that Valdés would be the obvious choice for tonight’s vital World Cup qualifier in Finland. However, the Spanish media have created such a storm around the debate of who should keep Spain’s goal that Del Bosque has been left in a very difficult situation.
The national coach is in a “damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t” situation over the selection choice and whether, or not, to choose San Iker, as he is known in Spain (Saint Iker). The Madrid media have built it up as a battle of wills between the veteran Spanish boss and his counterpart at Real Madrid and even the Club President.
Del Bosque did state this afternoon that he has already made his choice and he is aware that “someone will be perceived as the winner and the other the loser” in the situation. He stated that he “has taken into account a lot of this things from the past and can’t avoid that”, presumably referring to Casillas status as undisputed number one.
He did also mention that “Valdés is superb, a great keeper and one of the best guys in every sense”.
There is a perception in Spain that Casillas has never fully recovered from the fall out of the heated clásicos of the early period of Mourinho’s time at Madrid. There was much animosity between the sides and it took a phone call from Casillas himself to Xavi (who have known each other since the Spanish youth levels) to try and build bridges and broker a peace deal with the two factions so as not affect the nations side.
This did not go down well in Madrid and Mourinho took the move as a sight against him and his divisionary tactics. Worse still the President, Florentino Pérez would still appear to be of the same mind.
If Casillas is selected it will be perceived as all out war against the capital club, its new coach and President and a huge slight to Valdés and an already apathetic Catalonia when it comes to la selección.
If he isn’t selected and Valdés starts, many will perceive this as a vindication of Mourinho and now Ancelotti’s decision to bench the Spanish legend and may signal a decline and fall from the national scene as well as the end of his time at Madrid.
What will be the outcome of this challenging choice? We will find out the answer later this evening and it could certainly shape the international career of whoever is left out by Don Vicente Del Bosque.