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Oct, 18, 2012

Albiol claims 'campaign' against Casillas

Real Madrid defender Raul Albiol has claimed there is a "campaign" in Spain to damage Iker Casillas's chances of winning this year's Ballon D'Or award.

• Blog: Record-breaking San Iker

Casillas has received an unusual amount of criticism in recent weeks after making some uncharacteristic mistakes, and Albiol said those comments had been made with an agenda.

"When these types of criticisms are made, there is an objective," Albiol said. "This campaign is to give those who choose the Ballon D'Or one problem less.

"It is clear that to win the award as a goalkeeper is very difficult but, if anyone can do, it is Iker. Last year, he won trophies with Spain and with Real Madrid. He had a great season."

The criticism of Madrid and Spain captain Casillas in the media has come alongside a renewed push from Madrid figures, especially coach Jose Mourinho, to highlight the claims of Cristiano Ronaldo for the award. Meanwhile, in Barcelona, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta have had plenty of backers.

Albiol said these would all be deserving winners, but that Casillas's position as a goalkeeper who nevertheless stood out should count in his favour.

"The most just thing would be to give a Ballon D'or to Cristiano, Messi, Iker and Iniesta too," he said. "There is only one, but many players would deserve it.

"A 'keeper should have the same chance as an outfield player, and he has given a lot to Spanish football, the national team and Real Madrid."

Casillas was criticised for letting Aleksandar Kolarov's long-range free kick sneak in during Manchester City's Champions League visit to the Estadio Bernabeu, while some pundits claimed he should have stopped Messi's set-piece goal in the 2-2 Clasico draw in Barcelona earlier this month.

Albiol said such criticism was affecting his team-mate's mood off the pitch, but that Casillas remained focused on it.

"I imagine that when he goes home it affect him, that is normal," he said. "He is always demanding of himself, and gets angry.

"He wants to stop everything. There is a lot of talk in the last weeks that he could have done more or less with different goals. It is normal that they expect a lot from him, but we know he is safe between the posts."

Albiol's only appearances for Madrid this season came during a difficult start in which they drew with Valencia and lost at Barcelona and Getafe.

Injuries to Marcelo, Fabio Coentrao and Alvaro Arbeloa may open up a place for him in the side at home to Celta Vigo on Saturday, but the former Valencia defender said nobody liked to see valuable team-mates missing.

"For players in the same position to get injured is a misfortune, it affects the level of the team," he said.

"We have a deep squad with players who can fill in for these absences, but I hope they get back as soon as possible. I am available to play wherever I am needed, as are all my team-mates."

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