Manchester United keeper David de Gea is likely to be selected ahead of Real Madrid’s Diego Lopez for the 2014 World Cup this year despite contrasting seasons with their clubs. With Victor Valdes ruled out due to a knee injury picked up in midweek, one spot remains, and the United youngster is expected to take it.
The positions of Iker Casillas and Pepe Reina are unlikely to change, despite captain Casillas’ own issues with playing time, so the one space remains for someone to take.
And it is de Gea who is likely to pip Lopez, who has enjoyed an incredible year with Madrid, due to Vicente del Bosque’s tendency to favour the younger player. De Gea came up through the youth ranks with Los Rojitos (Spain’s youth teams) and has his career ahead of him compared to Lopez at 32.
23-year-old de Gea has had a particularly impressive season too, making key saves as United struggle under David Moyes. His workload has increased and he has been able to shine as a result, making him the most likely replacement for Valdes in June.
This prediction is backed up by del Bosque’s selection of de Gea in 2012, prior to the European Championships. The three established keepers meant he was not taken to Poland/Ukraine but it proved del Bosque’s faith in de Gea, marking him as the most likely fourth choice stopper.
Lopez was not given the same chance despite his greater experience. His one cap for Spain came back in 2009 and has been out of international reckoning ever since. Yet this season his form has kept Iker Casillas out of the Madrid team and proved Jose Mourinho right to back him ahead of Casillas.
Madrid’s defence has been, for the most part, outstanding this season as Lopez helped the club to set a clean sheets record (7) and has made crucial saves at pivotal moments. He is also playing in Spain with team mates Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Arbeloa on a regular basis. This should theoretically give him the edge over Casillas in the national team too but the impact Casillas has in the squad is profound, making him a cert for Brazil no matter how often he appears.
Age is rather unfairly against Lopez but for de Gea it will be a massive chance to experience a major tournament. Valdes, Casillas and Reina are all in their 30s so he is expected to prop up the next generation at the back. As 3rd choice keeper, it is unlikely that de Gea will get any gametime, therefore it is not a massive risk to leave Lopez behind. De Gea has been away with Spain’s youth teams in the past and has a great understanding of adapting to life in a foreign country since moving to England. Going to the World Cup will surely give him the necessary experience to potentially become Spain’s number one for the 2018 tournament in Russia.
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