Whether because of poor form, an argument with Jose Mourinho or because of attempts to ease tensions with rivals Barcelona, Iker Casillas found himself on the Real Madrid bench last December.

The weeks and months that followed Mourinho's controversial benching of the club and Spain captain saw Casillas fall from Bernabéu stardom to bench-warmer in dramatic fashion.

With his replacement, Antonio Adan, getting himself sent off in a league match with Real Sociedad on January 6, Casillas was given another chance in the starting line-up while his back-up sat out suspended. The 32-year-old injured his hand, however, and was once again watching from the sidelines as emergency signing David López started for Real.

With López proving to be an outstanding talent, Casillas' place in the first team was lost for the rest of the season, even after his hand had recovered.

New boss Carlo Ancelotti arrived in the summer and was expected by many at the Bernabéu to put Casillas back in the side. That never happened, however, and Diego López has kept his place and started all three La Liga games of this season, conceding twice.

Carlo Ancelotti has allegedly told Casillas that he will play for the club only in the Champions League this season as the club continues their quest for the "decima" (their 10th European title). Diego López will continue to start for the capital side in La Liga matches, it would appear. 

Spain boss Vicente del Bosque was one of few men late to put their faith in Casillas recently, when he gave the man who lifted Spain's only World Cup trophy his 150th cap in Finland on Friday night. Del Bosque would have been totally justified had he opted for Barcelona's Victor Valdes - who has enjoyed a fantastic start to the season -  yet he went for the Real Madrid man.

The Spain boss defended Casillas before the game, saying: "Iker Casillas will always have me by his side. Casillas is captain of the side and an important part of our team."

His loyalty was repaid early on as Casillas made a good stop to deny what would have been an own goal. Next up for Spain is a friendly against Chile next Tuesday and it will be very interesting to see if Casillas is given another start for La Roja or if his story will take another unpredicted turn.

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