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Casillas Under Pressure

There is widespread shock in Spain after Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti left Iker Casillas on the bench for the club’s opening game of the league season.

It had been expected that following the departure of Jose Mourinho, club icon Casillas would be returned to the starting line-up.

After all, it was understood to be largely due to political reasons, and not sporting ones, that Mourinho refused to return Casillas to the starting line-up last season, after he returned from injury.

However, his replacement Diego Lopez performed well after stepping in for Casillas, and he was rewarded for his good form with a place in the team last weekend.

"I took this decision for today," Ancelotti said after Real’s narrow 2-1 win over Real Betis.

"It's a decision taken on small details. I made it for this game. We'll see what happens in the next one.

"I spoke to Casillas, he is very professional and he is keen to play."

Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque gave his backing to Casillas last season, after the national team skipper was benched.

He made him first-choice for the Confederations Cup, and insisted it would remain that way for as long as ‘Saint’ Iker proved himself in training.

But in a World Cup year, coaches like Brazil boss ‘Big Phil’ Scolari have made it clear that players with ambitions of making the tournament need to play, and Del Bosque will surely feel the same.

Consequently, Casillas will be under immense pressure to prove he is still Spain’s best ‘keeper, with Lopez- who is not even in Del Bosque’s squad- currently keeping him out of action.

The battle for the place between the sticks at the Bernabeu will be an intriguing sub-plot to what promises to be an exciting season in Spain.

And as far as Barcelona ‘keeper Victor Valdes is concerned, there should only be one winner.

"I have seen Iker make saves no one thought possible," Valdes said.

"For me, he is the best but I shouldn't say any more because it isn't my team."

Who do you think is Spain’s best ‘keeper? Click here to tell us.

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