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Russia plan squad purge for World Cup

Russia
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Spain assistant: Casillas is No.1 choice

Spain’s assistant manager Toni Grande has insisted that Iker Casillas will be the team’s No. 1 goalkeeper at the World Cup in Brazil this summer.

Iker Casillas
Iker Casillas is still a fine goalkeeper.

Casillas is back between the posts for Real Madrid, but was unable to hold down a regular place over the last year -- especially when Jose Mourinho was in charge at the Bernabeu.

However, despite the competition from the likes of Barcelona’s Victor Valdes, Liverpool’s Pepe Reina and Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea, Casillas is still top dog for the time being.

“He is our captain and Spain’s best keeper by a mile,” Grande said in an interview with Sefutbol.com. "He’s just another player, but let’s not forget, he’s still Iker Casillas.”

Spain are one of the favourites to take home the trophy, which would be their fourth straight major title after success at Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012. They would also become only the third team to defend their World Cup title after Italy in 1938 and Brazil in 1962.

“It’s going to be a very demanding tournament,” Grance added. “We’ll have to be even more focused this time. We know that repeating what we did in South Africa is going to be very hard. We were drawn in a tough group. We already know [Brazil after] what happened at the Confederations Cup. They took the game to us. They were better on the day and had more to lose than us.

“Within the team’s conduct there is a democracy. The captains and the most experienced players have the greatest voice within the team. We’ve seen how the other players listen to them and the system works.”

Grande also spoke about Brazilian-born striker Diego Costa, who (after opting to represent Spain) will join the squad for the first time in next week’s friendly against Italy.

“He has burst onto the scene with enormous power and energy, as well as a keen eye for goal,” he said. “His movement on the pitch gives a team the space in needs to open up the opposition. We had very few doubts about him.”

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