Casillas: Defensive solidity key for Real
Iker Casillas has waved away praise for his current record-breaking run between Real Madrid’s posts, while pointing out that the team’s current defensive soundness augurs well for the remainder of the season.
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Wednesday’s 1-0 Copa del Rey quarter-final first leg win at Espanyol means that Casillas is yet to concede in five cup games this season. The Spain No. 1 has only let in four goals in his last 16 official matches for Madrid, saving 47 of his last 51 shots on goal.
Casillas nevertheless continues to be rotated by coach Carlo Ancelotti, only playing in the Copa del Rey and Champions League, with Diego Lopez favoured for La Liga games.
Against Espanyol, Casillas made a vital save from Jhon Cordoba, which reminded many Spanish observers of his stop from Arjen Robben in the 2010 World Cup final.
After the match, Casillas told AS that such solidity would be important to Madrid’s chances of winning things this season.
“I do not really think too much about a record, although the press always remind you,” Casillas said. “I have overcome a personal mark, and the team together has not conceded any goals.
“I hope this run goes on a long time for us. With the players we have [in attack], and the chances we create, keeping a clean sheet means a win in all competitions.”
Casillas said he had come to terms with the unusual situation of goalkeeper rotation at Madrid, and did not particularly enjoy being asked about it every week.
“Even I am bored about talking about my situation,” he said. “People should enjoy the players in the team, whoever the boss puts out in each competition and game and that is it. It is up to me to train as well as possible, first for me, then for the team. And enjoy the games I play, because it is a pleasure. “
Pushed as to whether he would still be at the Bernabeu next season, the Madrid native said he would for sure, while preferring to move quickly on to how the team had improved this season after last year’s disappointments under Jose Mourinho.
“Of course yes,” Casillas said. “It is up to me to enjoy it, as the boss said, we are still in the three competitions. Last season it went very badly for us. Now I hope in April we will be fighting in everything.”
Madrid have now kept six consecutive clean sheets in their first six games in all competitions in 2014, equalling a club record achieved just once before, in 1993. In his post-game news conference, Ancelotti was careful to also mention Lopez, who has been between the posts for the three La Liga games during the run.
“[Casillas] is doing very well and deserves the record because of his professionalism,” the Italian coach said. “He helps the team a lot. He has played very well in every match. We have a lot of league and cup matches to play and the two goalkeepers are playing more or less the same number of matches. Iker is a first choice starter, just the same as Diego Lopez.”