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Then And Now

Can Iker And Spain Do It Again?

In this week’s Then and Now feature Soccer Laduma compares the performances of Spain captain, Iker Casillas, at the 2010 World Cup to what we can expect of him and his national team at the tournament in Brazil.

On 11 July 2010, Casillas captained Spain to its first ever World Cup title with a 1-0 win against the Netherlands. In doing so, he became only the third goalkeeper to captain a World Cup winning side (after Gianpiero Combi, ITA, in 1934 and Dino, ITA, in 1982).

Many will remember his two crucial saves in one-on-ones with Arjen Robben in the World Cup final when the score-line was still 0-0.

After keeping five clean sheets, only conceding two goals in the tournament and saving a penalty in the quarter-final against Paraguay, he was voted the best goalkeeper and awarded the Golden Glove.

But Casillas’ trophy-hunt didn’t stop in 2010. He again captained his country in the 2012 EURO success, which was La Furia Roja’s third consecutive victory at a major international tournament.

Then things slightly changed for Spain’s all-time record player with 153 caps. In 2012, then Real Madrid coach, Jose Mourinho, downgraded Casillas to second choice behind his country-man, Diego Lopez.

Many thought this decision would be rectified by Carlo Ancelotti, after Mourinho left Bernabeu, but the Italian also decided to start Lopez in all La Liga games.

However, Casillas took the challenge and produced some inspired displays in Real Madrid’s Copa del Rey triumph as well as in the Champions League. He only conceded nine goals in 19 games he has played this season.

Marc Bartra’s goal in Real’s 2-1 final victory in the Copa del Rey was the only goal Casillas conceded in the Spanish Cup campaign, after reaching the final unprecedented.

In the national team, Vicente del Bosque started to give Victor Valdes and Pepe Reina more game time, but following Valdes’ injury and Casillas great form of late it is almost unthinkable that the 32-year-old won’t be first-choice in Brazil.

He holds the record for most clean sheets with Spain, keeping the opposition in unbelievable 91 of his 153 games at bay and also set up the record of 817 minutes without conceding in 2012.

Following a surprising 3-0 defeat in the 2013 Confederations Cup final, many believe the ageing Spain squad won’t be able to defend their World Cup title in Brazil, but if Iker Casillas continues his recent form La Furia Roya is bound to reach the latter stages of the tournament.

Can ‘Saint’ Iker lead Spain to defend their World Cup title? Have your say in the comment section below.

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