Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has urged fans and journalists not to focus on whether he chooses Iker Casillas or Diego Lopez in goal for Monday’s La Liga trip to Granada.
Ancelotti surprisingly opted for Lopez in the season opener against Betis, when Blancos supporters and pundits had assumed club captain Casillas would return to the starting line-up following the departure of Jose Mourinho.
At his pre-match press conference, the coach said he had yet to decide who would play against Granada.
“The club is very lucky to have two fantastic keepers and I have to make the decisions,” Ancelotti was quoted as saying on Real’s official website.
“It is normal for me to make this kind of decision and gauge the reaction. I am not going to say who the keeper will be tomorrow. There has been a lot of talk going around and I would prefer to talk to both players first. Then I will make a decision, but it will not be definitive.”
Divisions among the Bernabeu support were evident during last week’s homage to former hero Raul Gonzalez. Casillas started the game and was whistled by some of Madrid’s ultras, who had taken Mourinho’s side. Lopez played the second half, having been booed by some fans while he was warming up.
Ancelotti said it made no sense for Madrid fans to take sides over two of their own team’s players. “It was a little unpleasant for me because I know the Real Madrid fans well,” he added. “It is important to know that I make decisions so that the team wins. And, above all, it is important to understand that it is not Iker or Diego who is playing, it is the Real Madrid goalkeeper.”
Of more immediate concern to Ancelotti are his central midfield options, with Xabi Alonso out for two to three months with a broken metatarsal, Sami Khedira sidelined with an ankle knock and Asier Illarramendi recovering from a muscle problem.
Youth-team midfielder Jose Rodriguez, 18, has travelled to Granada and is likely to be on the bench. Casemiro, 21, a €6 million summer signing from Sao Paolo, may get his first start of the season.
“We have a problem with Khedira,” Ancelotti said. “We can solve it either with Casemiro or with Isco playing closer to [Luka] Modric.”
He said Illarramendi would be in contention to make his debut after the international break, adding: “He is recovering well and he will start training with the squad next week.”