Following Spain’s 1-5 defeat to a marauding a Netherlands side on Friday, team captain and most-capped player Iker Casillas took responsibility for his team’s terrible start to their title defense.
“The first thing I have to do is offer a mea culpa,” Casillas stated after the game. “This is the worst performance of my career. We have to say sorry. Holland were very good, we were the complete opposite. Sometimes it’s good for things like this to happen so that you can react but we have to react now.”
With only two league appearances for Real Madrid this season, Spain Coach Vincente del Bosque showed plenty of faith in Casillas by keeping him in the starting XI ahead of two other world-class goal keepers, who seemed to be in better form than the successful veteran. Now with hindsight it seems like that faith may damage la Roja’s chances of advancing into the knockout phases.
Though the Spanish defense and midfield should also shoulder some blame for the heavy loss. The 33-year-old’s heavy first touch to gift Robin Van Persie his second goal of the game, along with his failed frantic scramble to stop Arjen Robben scoring his brace, seemed like a far cry from a player who is widely acknowledged as one of the most talented and decorated stoppers of his generation.
The Spanish defense and midfield should also shoulder some blame for the heavy loss. Del Bosque echoed this when he came to the defense of his captain after the game, saying this: “Defeats happen as a result of weaknesses in the entire squad, but least of all because of the performance of Iker Casillas.”
In 2010 Spain overcame the setback of losing its first group game 0-1 to Switzerland, becoming the first side to do so and then go onto win the World Cup. For a side which hadn’t conceded five goals in an international since 1963 though, this time the route to the trophy seems far bleaker.
Casillas’ quick rise from a 21-year-old understudy to the Spanish starting XI is on every decent freak injury piece you’ll come across. Before the 2002 World Cup, then-first choice ‘keeper Santiago Cañizares dropped a bottle of aftershave on his foot and severed a tendon, ruling him out of the tournament. Casillas’ performance as the competition’s youngest starting keeper was so impressive that his place has never been in doubt, up until recently.