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 Posted by Dermot Corrigan
Jun 16, 2014

Reina backs Casillas as Spain No. 1

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque has revealed goalkeeper Iker Casillas apologised to the team following their 5-1 defeat to the Netherlands.

Spain's reserve goalkeeper Pepe Reina has said he sees no reason why No. 1 and captain Iker Casillas should be dropped despite the captain's shocker in Friday's 5-1 defeat to Netherlands.

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Real Madrid's Casillas was at fault for the third and fourth goals in the Group B opener in Salvador, leading to widespread claims the keeper -- who also had a poor game in the Champions League final last month -- had lost confidence and was now a liability to the team.

Such talk was immediately dismissed by Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, who said he retained full faith in a player he has known since they first worked together more than two decades ago.

The situation is complicated further by a hip injury sustained by Manchester United's David de Gea which means he is unlikely to be available for Spain's two remaining group matches.

Liverpool keeper Reina -- whose own club future is uncertain after spending last season on loan at Serie A club Napoli -- told radio station Cope he would back the decision to keep "San Iker" between the posts for Wednesday's second group game against Chile in Rio de Janeiro.

"Iker will be phenomenal, we are not just discovering who he is at this point," Reina said. "He has the authority to save us in the next game. He looks good to me, confident, very motivated. I do not see any reason to drop him. I believe he will not be dropped, and I take that side. He is super-prepared to save us when needed."

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Following Friday's game, many pundits said Casillas' problems were due to him having spent almost all of the 2013-14 La Liga campaign on the bench, playing 1,194 minutes across 23 Champions League and Copa del Rey games.

Chile captain Claudio Bravo appeared to agree with that theory when he told AS a lack of regular games could lead goalkeepers to start to doubt themselves.

"[Iker's] situation is very difficult," Real Sociedad stopper Bravo -- who has been heavily linked with a summer move to Barcelona -- said.

"A goalkeeper needs to play, to feel alive from week to week. When you lose that continuity, for you it is about doing just enough not to make mistakes."

Spain's heavy defeat has led many in the country to fear the world champions will follow previous recent winners France (1998) and Italy (2006) in falling at the group stage in the following competition. In an AS online poll, 60 percent of 25,000 voters predicted a group-stage exit.

Spain's players and coaches have tried to lift the mood, with Casillas talking to his teammates in the dressing room directly after the Netherlands game -- and Reina said he still had faith the situation could be turned around.

"Iker was a true captain, we knew his talk would be productive, to lift us and to be united," he said. "I believe a lot in my teammates. The team, at least will try and be true to its philosophy. You try to find solutions and conclusions, and try to lift people. It is a hard defeat, but there is time to react.

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