Rotating goalkeeper on a regular basis is not a proven way to win titles; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Iker Casillas might be getting out of the freezer and will enjoy some playing time in the Champions League, but Diego Lopez is still the number one keeper for Real Madrid, and playing six times in three months won’t be what makes Casillas forget about wanting to leave.
The last time Casillas played for Real Madrid was in a Copa Del Rey match against Valencia on January 23. He fractured his hand soon after, and Mourinho had the perfect opportunity to demote Casillas to the bench for good, bringing in Diego Lopez who turned out to be a huge hit; still is.
Carlo Ancelotti never wanted this mess. But having someone like Casillas sit on the bench is a huge problem. This isn’t Mesut Ozil, Angel Di Maria or some other high-profile player the club bought, and eventually will sell at some point. Casillas has been with Real Madrid for 15 years in the senior team and before than with the Junior side. He is a national hero in Spain for his achievements with the national team, and is the last missing link between Real and their previous Champions League title.
It’s hard to argue about Lopez deserving a spot in the lineup. He doesn’t have bad matches, and on more than one occasion has been the difference between losing and winning, showing fantastic instincts as his defense lets him down again and again. Maybe Casillas can still do those things, but for both Spain and previously at Real, it seemed like his influence, not his actual ability, is the most important thing.
Casillas wants to play, and every photo of him sitting on the bench, biting his lips, is more food for the press to attack Ancelotti and continue the questions about Casillas. Having a UCL and league goalkeeper isn’t normal – the best keeper plays in both competitions, and goalkeeper in any case isn’t a position you rotate. But leaving Casillas out in the cold would make things quite difficult for the Italian coach, so he prefers to send away the vultures by giving them something to satisfy them.
But will it satisfy Casillas? Playing six to 12 matches a season isn’t enough to keep him starting for the national team, and at this point, it might be the most important thing for him, with the World Cup only nine months away. Even if the Champions League is the more prestigious of the two competitions, it’s hard to believe it’ll be the answer to his prayers about finding himself as a vital part of the team again. It only helps Carlo Ancelotti by lowering the amount of questions he’ll be asked at the next press conference about the positional battle between Casillas and Lopez.