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Arbeloa plays down Casillas rift

Real Madrid defender Alvaro Arbeloa has denied his relationship with captain Iker Casillas has deteriorated.

Arbeloa, speaking to TV station La Sexta last week, had launched into a defence of the club's former manager Jose Mourinho, who caused a stir when he dropped Casillas, and added: "There are people who do not like having a coach who would not let them relax. I prefer people like 'Mou', who are straight up ... There does not need to be so much of a commotion if someone goes to the bench occasionally."

Raul Albiol, who plays alongside the duo for Madrid and Spain, then said that Arbeloa's relationship with Casillas may have become "a little bit colder".

However, Arbeloa insisted at a press conference before Spain's international friendly with Ireland that his relationship with the goalkeeper is "the same as before".

He added: "We wear the same crests on our chest - for Madrid and the national team. More importantly, my comments were not about Iker. Not even indirectly. There's no room for misinterpretation."

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque maintained that the pair had not caused him any problems.

"I haven't seen anything that has caught my attention," Del Bosque said. "They sit and eat at the same table, and if there is any disagreement, that is nothing strange because it happens in every team. There are 23 players and they all have their own opinions.

"Their relationship does not affect the overall health of the national team. If it isn't good at their clubs, that isn't my business."

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, meanwhile, has claimed the current team is closer than any other during his time in charge.

"I've overseen great squads and there have always been some problems between certain players, but this is the most united squad I've seen since 2000, without saying that other squads weren't united," he told Marca.

Perez remains confident that any issues will not be carried into the next campaign, adding: "Like my mother used to say, every day is new. Every season, the players start with a new outlook."


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