Iker Casillas was supposed to end Spain’s encounter against the Netherlands with three points in the bag and a new World Cup record to his name. However, following the crushing 5-1 defeat inflicted on Friday night, Casillas has seen his place called into question. Is now the time for David de Gea to step up?
Well, perhaps not, but Rio Ferdinand, speaking on BBC Sport, has pushed the name of his former Manchester United colleague into the frame after Casillas endured a calamitous performance in the most humbling of losses to the Netherlands.
One poor performance will not bring about a premature end to Casillas’ international career, but Ferdinand has reason enough to suggest De Gea should be promoted above his illustrious colleague by Vicente del Bosque.
Although it was a night of desperate displays, notably from Spain’s central defensive pair of Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique, Casillas will have his contribution scrutinised more than that of any other, given the consistency he has produced during his country’s sustained period of success.
Had Casillas repelled the Netherlands for 84 minutes at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador then he would have broken new ground in the annals of World Cup history, surpassing the 518 minute record set by Walter Zenga without conceding a goal. But it could now be the beginning of the end.
De Gea is the natural successor
It still remains highly unlikely that Del Bosque will choose to chop his distinguished captain once the post-mortem has been performed, but the Spain coach does have Casillas’ natural heir among his number. Del Bosque is aware that De Gea is the future for Spain, and perhaps the Manchester United No.1 may benefit more readily from retaining his spot on the bench for the World Cup’s duration.
From there he fully digest the pressures that come with representing his country at the highest level as he witnessed their previously infallible leader crash and burn spectacularly at the hands of Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben.
That cauldron would not be a pleasant place in which to throw De Gea although, as he has proved during his time at Old Trafford, the 23-year-old is capable of coping with the expectation that associates itself with playing for Manchester United.
Now too early to change
Ferdinand may believe De Gea should complete his rise with a place in the Spain team, and there is little doubt that the Manchester United star is ready. But right now is not the time for Casillas to step aside, and Spain’s renowned stability will be a key factor in helping them overcome this debilitating blow.
But the end is nigh for Casillas, and De Gea’s ascension to the Real Madrid icon’s previously assumed unassailable position may well be complete come the end of the World Cup, win or lose.
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