Dave saves?

Amol Gokhale
Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Spain team backs goalkeeper David de Gea after Portugal howler

Moscow: David de Gea is the first player in the history of Manchester United to win the Sir Matt Busby Fans' Player of the Season for three successive seasons (2014, '15, '16) and won that award at the end of the 2018 campaign as well--a record fourth time.

Being a goalkeeper and winning the prestigious award at a club as big as Manchester United just goes on to show that how crucial he has been to the Red Devils', especially after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson.

The 27-year-old has arguably been one of the best goalkeepers in the 2017-18 season, with legendary Gigi Buffon not getting any younger and Germany's Manuel Neuer missing the most part of the campaign due to a foot injury.

De Gea, who succeeded none other than Iker Casillas since the Euro 2016, also won the Premier League Golden Glove for most number of clean sheets this year, until a recent dip in form which has cost Spain dearly.

First, during a friendly against Switzerland, it was his mistake that gifted Swiss an equaliser. In their World Cup opener also, it was a howler by de Gea that gave Cristiano Ronaldo his second goal and Portugal 2-1 lead just before the half-time.

One cannot argue that even a goalkeeper of de Gea's stature, who has been on the list of Real Madrid for a last couple of years, could have done anything to keep Ronaldo's free-kick out. His recent slump in form has drawn some criticism from the Spanish press and fans, but he is set to remain between the posts for their next match against Iran on Wednesday.

"We don't doubt him and he doesn't doubt himself either. I embraced him. We know goalkeeper is a special position, with a special psychology, and we have no doubts, honestly," said newly-appointed coach Fernando Hierro after La Roja kicked off their Group B campaign.

"He is fine. Nobody likes making mistakes. He is still one of the best goalkeepers in the world," midfielder Isco said rallying behind the goalkeeper with 30 caps.

Iran test for Spain
On Wednesday, Spain will take on Iran, who lead Group B after their win over Morocco.

Once again, it will be the 2010 World Champions who will start as the favourites against the highest-ranked Asian side, who played with passion against Morocco and with a slice of luck got the late winner.

The 23-year-old youngster Sardar Azmun, who plays his club football with Rubin Kazan here in Russia, will be up against one the world's two best central defenders in Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique.

While midfielders Masoud Shojaei, Saeid Ezatolahi, Ehsan Haji Safi and Omid Ebrahim will be up against famous midfielders of 'La Roja' in Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Koke, it will be a busy day at the office for Iran goalkeeper Ali Beiranvan to keep at bay Diego Costa, who scored a brace in the opener, Isco and David Silva.

Isco, who plays for Real Madrid expressed that the game will decide Spain's World Cup destiny. "It's a crucial match that will determine our World Cup destiny. We want to score from the opening minute, even though that won't be easy," said Isco. 

"We will stick to the style that defines us as a team, but we have to pass the ball around a lot more and maintain possession. If we play quickly across the pitch, the chances will come. I hope we score quickly."
- Isco (Spain midfielder)

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