Spain need a replacement ready for Casillas – Del Bosque

The experienced coach has warned his players that their time with the national team could come to an abrupt end if they allow their performance levels to drop

Spain head coach Vicente del Bosque says it is important for his side to have a long-term successor to Iker Casillas in place as soon as possible.

The experienced Real Madrid goalkeeper has been his country’s No.1 for the best part of the last decade and was pivotal to their remarkable victories at Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012.

However, calls for the 33-year-old to lose his starting place have grown in the past year, with his club form beset by inconsistency and the rise of Manchester United’s David De Gea offering a viable alternative in goal for la Roja.

And Del Bosque admits he must begin to plan for life without the 158-cap goalkeeper.

“Casillas is getting older and we have to think that he might one day fall injured or that he stops playing for his club. We need someone to be ready and prepared,” Del Bosque was quoted as saying by Marca.

“All players should have leadership qualities. Charisma and character are demonstrated day to day out on the pitch. A player’s leadership comes from his performances and also his personality. Your place in the national team can come to an end at any time, because unfortunately we have to say who doesn’t make the grade.”

Del Bosque also suggested that recent criticism of defender Gerard Pique could be borne out of antipathy towards his pro-Catalunya independence stance.

“There has been a growing feeling against Pique because I feel that there is something behind it all. It’s not just about Pique sports-wise,” he said.

Del Bosque also moved to quash talk of an “obsession” with striker Diego Costa’s involvement with the national team, after initial controversy over his decision to represent Spain rather than Brazil and the more recent dispute with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho concerning his fitness.

“There is no obsession with him. His case is very special,” Del Bosque added. “At first there were people who frowned on the fact that he was foreign, but now we see he is a marvel that the people have accepted.

“He is here, motivated to play well. He can make mistakes but he wants to be of use. I have a lot of faith in him, although the start has been somewhat irregular.”


11 2014
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Ancelotti: Bale still deserves to play for Real Madrid

The Wales international’s position within the European champions’ starting line-up has come under scrutiny in recent weeks due to the impressive form of Isco

Carlo Ancelotti insists that Gareth Bale remains one of Real Madrid’s most important players.

The 25-year-old has endured a difficult start to his second season in Spain, following last summer’s world-record €100 million transfer from Tottenham Hotspur.

Bale’s form was the subject of much debate even before he was sidelined with a back problem midway through the month but some pundits are now claiming that the winger should not be restored to the starting line-up when he does return from injury – not least because of the impressive form of Isco in the Welshman’s absence.

However, Ancelotti intimated that Bale will be restored to the Madrid attack as soon as he is fully fit.

“Bale deserves to play,” the Italian told reporters on Friday. “He is one of the best players in the world and a very important player for this team.

“Isco is playing well and we hope he can prolong the good moment he’s in until the end of the season.

“But he is also compatible with Bale. He’s proved that already: they’ve played together and played well.”

Ancelotti also had his say on the current controversy over the fact that three Madrid players (Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos) picked up individual prizes at the LFP awards dinner during the week, while not a single member of Atletico’s title-winning side was recognised.

“I’m never surprised when any Madrid player wins an award,” the former Chelsea boss stated.

“It doesn’t come as a surprise when Ramos or Modric receive an award – or Cristiano, because he is the best player in the world.”

Madrid return to Liga action on Saturday at Granada, having drawn to within a point of leaders Barcelona with a 3-1 win in last weekend’s Clasico.

Ancelotti confirmed that Bale, Jese Rodriguez and Fabio Coentrao will all miss the trip to Andalusia through injury.


10 2014
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Zidane cleared to return to coaching until appeal verdict

The Real Madrid Castilla boss had been hit with a three-month suspension for not having the required coaching credentials but that ban has now been put on hold

Real Madrid have revealed that Zinedine Zidane has been cleared to continue coaching until the appeal against his three-month ban is heard.

The Frenchman had been hit with the suspension by the Spanish Football Federation’s (RFEF) Appeals Commission on October 27 for working as Real Madrid Castilla boss without the required coaching licence.

Los Blancos challenged the ruling, but their case was dismissed by the RFEF’s Appeals Commission on Thursday.

However, Zidane and his assistant, Santiago Sanchez, have now been now been granted temporary injuctions against their respective bans by the Spanish Sport Ministry.

“Real Madrid C. F. communicates that the Spanish Sport Ministry’s Administrative Court (TAD) has granted the precautionary suspension requested by the club, allowing the coach and assistant coach of Real Madrid Castilla, Santiago Sanchez and Zinedine Zidane respectively, to carry out their professional activity as soon as the Real Madrid’s appeal against the decision from the Appeals Committee is resolved,” read a statement released by the European champions.

Consequently, both Zidane and Sanchez will be able to take to the bench for Real Madrid Castilla’s meeting with Rayo Vallecano B on Saturday.

France icon Zidane brought the curtain down on his illustrious playing career in 2006, after five successful seasons in the Spanish capital.

The World Cup winner then return to the Santiago Bernabeu in 2013 to serve as an assistant to first-team coach Carlo Ancelotti before taking charge of the club’s reserve side this summer.


10 2014
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Granada-Real Madrid Preview: Ancelotti's red-hot side seek 11th consecutive win

Fresh from their 4-1 midweek Copa del Rey triumph, the European champions are expected to recall their big names for the trip to Los Carmenes

Real Madrid will be expected to continue their stunning recent form as they head to Granada in La Liga on Saturday.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men have won 10 consecutive games in all competitions – most recently dispatching third-tier Cornella 4-1 in the opening game of their Copa del Rey defence on Wednesday.

Raphael Varane scored twice in Catalonia as a makeshift Madrid side went in at the break 2-1 up – part-time electrician Oscar Munoz equalising the first of the Frenchman’s headers to give neutrals hope of a shock result.

Javier Hernandez and Marcelo netted after the interval to secure the comfortable scoreline, which Real will defend in the tie’s second leg in December.

As attentions switch back to matters in the league, another victory on the weekend will see Ancelotti rack up the longest winning streak of his career.

Cristiano Ronaldo was rested for the Copa trip and his usually supreme confidence will have been even further boosted with a goal in last week’s 3-1 Clasico success, being named La Liga’s best player at a midweek awards ceremony and his subsequent naming on the Ballon d’Or shortlist this week – another gong he is odds-on favourite to win.

Ronaldo has helped Real score 23 goals in recent wins against four of the league’s bottom six and 14th-placed Granada are not in the kind of form which suggests they will provide a stern test.

Granada snapped a four-game losing streak with a 1-1 draw at Eibar last weekend but a run of three goals scored in their last seven games will do little to worry Real’s defence.

Real first-teamers Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos were all afforded a rest in midweek, along with Portugal star Ronaldo.

That ensures Ancelotti has plenty of options at his disposal this weekend, though Gareth Bale is still recovering from a hip muscle injury.

The Italian has rightly been high on confidence this week but was forced to defend his team’s tactics after Barcelona legend Xavi blasted them for only counterattacking during the Clasico.

Ancelotti responded to the Barca captain’s claims: “That’s his opinion, that of a great player. 

“Real Madrid’s counter is tremendous but you also have to have control of the game and pressure well. 

“That is what we did against Barcelona. I don’t see it as a lack of respect, it’s the opinion of a player who has extraordinary experience.”


10 2014
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Breaking records is in Ronaldo's DNA – Santos

The Portugal boss has heaped praise on his team’s captain, who has been in free-scoring form for club side Real Madrid this season, adding that he is a “born winner”

Portugal coach Fernando Santos says breaking records is in Cristiano Ronaldo’s DNA.

The Real Madrid forward has been in free-scoring form so far this season, notching 16 goals in eight league appearances.

And the star recently broke his own record at the club by scoring in 11 consecutive games.

Santos, meanwhile, was effusive in his praise of the 29-year-old, telling Portuguese radio station Renascenca that he is a “born winner” and that his desire to “win and break records” is “part of his DNA”.

The former Greece trainer added that he hopes the attacker can “break another record by capturing a trophy with the national team”.

He added: “And if it could be at the upcoming European Championships [in France in 2016], that’d be terrific.

“Of course I want to win the Euros and so do the players. We will fight to do so. I believe it can happen. If other countries can do it, why can’t we?”


10 2014
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