Sunday 18 February 2018

Valdes jumps to defence of 'impeccable' Casillas

Jamie Holland

Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes has leapt to the defence of Spanish No 1 Iker Casillas and expressed his surprise that anyone would doubt his "impeccable" rival.

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque is spoilt for choice between the posts, with Valdes and Liverpool's Pepe Reina to choose from as well as Real Madrid's Casillas.

Casillas, the undisputed first choice in recent years, has come under fire this week after his error on Saturday gifted Saudi Arabia the opening goal in Saturday's 3-2 warm-up friendly win. But Valdes insists Euro 2008 winner Casillas (right) remains the main man.

"His record is impeccable and I would not understand those who cast doubt on his quality," said the uncapped 28-year-old.

"Iker has a spotless record. He has achieved everything and probably will get more titles."

He continued: "For me it is fortunate to have two colleagues like Iker and Pepe to help me work and improve.

"The squad benefits from this. We should respect everyone and not speak of one as better than the other.

"It's lucky for everyone that we have this level of goalkeepers in the squad and, for me, having them as colleagues too."

Valdes also played down talk of a rift between himself and Reina, his former Barcelona youth team-mate.

"There is no problem," he said. "We have spoken and it is just to the contrary -- we have always got on very well.

"There is no close friendship, since we went separate ways in our youth, but the idea that we have a bad relationship is totally false."

Meanwhile, midfielder Xabi Alonso feels the Spain squad are gradually adapting to the World Cup ball.

The 'Jabulani' ball has been criticised in recent days, with several players, including Casillas, claiming it is difficult to control and is a nightmare for goalkeepers.

Alonso, a team-mate of Casillas at Madrid, said yesterday: "The ball is different, but little by little, we are getting accustomed to it.

"We have only been training with it for a few days and it has different characteristics, but you get a feel for the touch and its trajectory.

"I think as days go by and once we play more games with it, I am certain we will feel more comfortable with it."

The European champions are training in Austria in preparation for the World Cup.

Del Bosque's side continue their build-up with a friendly against South Korea in Innsbruck tomorrow.

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres sat out training yesterday morning as a precaution, with the 26-year-old not yet fully fit after knee surgery.

Irish Independent

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