The World Cup is fast approaching, and we are entering the thick of the action. Selection headaches, injuries, and competitive spots within the squad are the major headaches for national team coaches.
Spain, in particular, boasts of a series of talents across several positions but a position where they appear to be stacked is at goalkeeper.
Five Goalkeepers, Three Spots – Who Gets The Nod?
David De Gea, Unai Simon, Kepa Arizzabalaga, David Raya, and Robert Sanchez will look to battle for the three spots available for the goalkeepers to represent the nation in the forthcoming World Cup. Each goalkeeper has their strengths and weaknesses, but despite their intrinsic abilities, speculations have it that the Spanish coach Luis Enrique would determine his first-choice goalkeeper based on his tactics, irrespective of their form.
Of the five lots vying for a place in the team ahead of the World Cup, David De Gea is the most experienced. The 31-year-old made his debut way back in 2014 under Vicente Del Bosque and has since gone on to make 45 appearances for the national side despite his exile from the team since 2020.
In recent years, De Gea’s position between the sticks has been questioned. The keeper’s lack of concentration, inability to engage in aerial claims, and distribution deficiency have been more exposed, but he has been nothing short of exceptional this season. The 31-year-old has been ever-present in games for the Red Devils this season, single-handedly keeping them in the game on multiple occasions.
He produced another stellar goalkeeping display against Tottenham, where his save at the back post was the start of the movement which led to United’s second goal – a Bruno Fernandes curler.
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David De Gea’s Rejuvenation
Since Erik Ten Hag’s appointment, De Gea has enjoyed a sort of rejuvenation further improving his reading of the game and his ball-playing abilities. It could be argued that the defensive tenacity of Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez has helped erase the Spaniard’s blemish but the goalkeeper has kept four clean sheets, made 26 saves, five high claims, four sweeper clearances, and won two aerial battles in ten appearances in the league this season.
His all-around improvements seem to highlight the qualities Spanish head coach Luis Enrique demanded from him before his absence from the team:
“What I am looking for is to have three starting goalkeepers and I think that right now I have them. Honestly, I wouldn’t have an issue with any of the three of them starting.
“For us, a goalkeeper has to start the moves. We need a goalkeeper who dominates the aerial game, their box, and for me, it’s what he transmits. I need the goalkeeper to transmit peace and calmness to me.
“That doesn’t mean they won’t make mistakes, errors are part of football, but I like what these three generate a lot.”- Luis Enrique said in his defense after repeatedly dropping the experienced goalkeeper.
Enrique has sought a new wave of Spanish talent since he arrived at the Spanish national team and emphasized his decision to build around youngsters. It is impossible to deny the influence youngsters have in the modern game, but it’ll be criminal to overlook the addition of a few experienced players within the squad. A mix of young talents and experienced teammates is vital to running a successful campaign.
With the preference of Robert Sanchez or Unai Simon between the sticks, the addition of David De Gea to the mix would be a no-brainer not for his recent form only but also for his experience, regarded as one of the best shot-stoppers in this decade.
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