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Stay united, Arbeloa urges Real fans

Alvaro Arbeloa has said controversy over whether Diego Lopez or Iker Casillas plays in goal must not divide Real Madrid's fans, echoing the words of coach Carlo Ancelotti.

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Casillas, 31, was again left out as Ancelotti stuck with Lopez for Monday night’s 1-0 win at Granada. Spanish TV coverage showed Casillas, the club captain, looking glum on the sidelines, while Real supporters sang the name of a player who has lifted the World Cup and the European Championship trophy for Spain.

The controversy over who keeps goal has led to a split among Madrid supporters, demonstrated during last week’s homage to former hero Raul Gonzalez when some among the ultras whistled Casillas, while Lopez was booed by fans elsewhere in the stadium.

Speaking after Monday’s game, Arbeloa told radio show El Larguero those divisions must be put to one side. “I want to send a message to all madridismo so that we are all united,” he said.

“I understand that they support Iker, and I share that, I am the first to give him support because, of course, for him this is not an easy situation.

“But we are professionals, we respect the coach’s decisions, whoever plays, and the supporters must be with Iker, with Diego, with whoever is Real Madrid’s keeper. We have enough enemies not to start killing among ourselves as well.”

The right-back said those not in the starting XI must wait for their opportunity. “There will be time for everyone to play, to help the team,” he added. “With Iker it must be the same -- he has a lot of experience and, as I said, the season is very long, and I am sure there will be time for everyone.”

Meanwhile, Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque suggested that treating a senior figure like Casillas as just another squad member in the Spain national set-up would be unfair, considering what he had contributed over the years.

“Iker is not the same as others,” he told AS. “We must think of his many years in football, his 149 international caps. I believe we must show him affection and respect. We must be good to Iker Casillas, because he has shown so much.

“We are defenders of Iker -- we must treat everyone the same, but to do that in a group of 23 players is, sometimes, the biggest injustice.”

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