Spanish Football Expert & Columnist @GuillemBalague
Spain: Guillem Balague says David De Gea has toppled Iker Casillas as No. 1
Real Madrid man NOT dropped because of 'mistake' against Slovakia
Last Updated: 13/10/14 5:40pm
It was always Vicente del Bosque’s plan to move Iker Casillas out of Spain’s goal and to move in David de Gea.
It was kind of spoiled in a way by the Slovakia defeat, in which Casillas made a mistake, because some people might have thought Casillas was being punished by not starting against Luxembourg.
Casillas is a very good reactive goalkeeper but not so good proactively.
But De Gea was always set to play in Luxembourg and even though Del Bosque says he is going to rotate – part of a “sweet transition” as he calls it – and we may see Casillas from time to time, De Gea is going to be the No 1 for a bit.
The first goal Casillas conceded against Slovakia was a mistake.
It came off the back off a fantastic save but it shows what Casillas is at the moment and what he has perhaps always been: a very good reactive goalkeeper but not so good proactively.
When the ball came to him, he swerved a bit when he should have stayed on his feet and made himself bigger. I used to be a goalkeeper myself but have been also told this by other ‘keepers.
That was basically the last straw for Casillas but he was always going to be replaced by De Gea.
What we saw against Luxembourg was a fantastic David Silva and an extraordinary Paco Alcacer, who was great in his movement and links with midfielders and will now be a regular.
Silva played at the tip of a midfield diamond, behind Alcacer and Diego Costa, but Costa was too anxious and Del Bosque had to tell him at half time not to be desperate and to keep his head cold.
Costa finally scored and you could see his relief, but the problem with having him in the team is that there is a mixture of styles.
If you want to play for Costa, you have to play much more direct, as Spain did for the 15 minutes before he came off against tired Luxembourg defenders.
But Andres Iniesta was not on the pitch for those minutes and while people are saying Koke may be the problem, I see Iniesta as the problem.
He belongs to the other mentality of building from the back, attacking altogether and recovering the ball high up. Koke is happier being direct, though he can do both styles.
There was not enough variation in attack and more has to come from the wings for Spain, while Pedro is continuing his “walk in the desert” as we say - not much is coming from him.
All in all there is enough quality to compete but I just feel there are a few players who don’t seem to be as hungry or switched on as they were a few years back.
The transition is taking place, as you can see with Juan Bernat, Marc Bartra, De Gea, Alcacer and more, but the main worry is that we still don’t have the perfect No. 9 or the perfect centre-back partnership, though Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique should be it.
There is a still a clash of cultures and question marks in regards to how Spain want to play – but there are no question marks over Del Bosque, who will stay as manager for as long as he wants.