Iker Casillas awaits his moment to shine when Real Madrid open their Champions League campaign away to Galatasaray Tuesday night.
The debate over whether Casillas or Diego Lopez should occupy the Madrid goal has threatened to overshadow the start of the season, almost capturing headlines from world record signing Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, whose contract renewal was confirmed Monday, reports Xinhua.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has carried on from the decision taken by his predecessor Jose Mourinho and Lopez has started all of Madrid's games to date. However, whereas Mourinho's attitude appeared to be motivated by personal issues with Casillas, Ancelotti clearly prefers Lopez's style of keeping, reflecting the Italian preference for a tall keeper who is able to dominate his penalty area rather than the smaller but faster Casillas, who is excellent on one-on-ones with forwards and has lightening reflexes, but weaker in the air.
Lopez has so far lived up to his billing and was outstanding in the 2-2 draw away to Villarreal Saturday night but Ancelotti announced Friday that Casillas would be his man for the Champions League this season, or at least for the trip to Turkey.
While that may have calmed the Lopez-Casillas debate for a while, it has begun another debate over whether or not it is wise to swap goalkeepers for two such important competitions, especially given Real Madrid's obsession with winning a 10th European Cup.
There are two sides to the argument. On one hand, rotating keepers means that both are theoretically in top shape all season and should one get injured, there is less risk of having to use a substitute who has spent the whole season training hard but has not actually played in any competitive matches.
On the other hand, if Ancelotti clearly believes Lopez to be the superior keeper, why is he putting Madrid's European future in Casillas' hands?
He is fortunate that Casillas played for Spain in Finland 10 days ago and is not short of match practice but the policy has now served to increase the pressure on the keeper. Although Casillas should be able to live with it, there is no question that any error from him Tuesday will be seized on and magnified.