Spain's goalkeeper doubts lingering before Euro 2016 opener
TOULOUSE, France (AP) Vicente Del Bosque will wait until the last minute to announce whether it will be veteran Iker Casillas or troubled David de Gea in goal when Spain takes on the Czech Republic in its opener at the European Championship.
Del Bosque said he still hasn't decided who will start and is not worried that his reluctance will add extra pressure on the two players ahead of Monday's game in Toulouse.
''They are grown-ups,'' Del Bosque said Sunday. ''We are making considerations in all positions, not only about the goalkeepers. The final decision will be made tomorrow.''
There used to be no question about Spain's goalkeeping position as Casillas was an indisputable starter for years, the captain of a golden generation that won two European titles and the World Cup.
But after more than a decade in goal, the veteran goalkeeper sees himself fighting for a spot with De Gea, the Manchester United player who seemed poised to get his chance in the starting lineup before allegations surfaced that he was involved in an investigation into a Spanish pornography filmmaker. He has denied any wrongdoing, but the damage was already done only three days before the team's first game.
''If we see that his playing condition has been affected, then we will do something,'' Del Bosque said. ''If not, we will handle the situation just as we would before.''
The allegations could not have come at a worse time for Del Bosque, whose decision now will be even more scrutinized. If he picks Casillas, many will say it was because of the off-the-field problem affecting De Gea.
De Gea started in Spain's final warm-up game, a disappointing 1-0 loss to 137th-ranked Georgia at home last week, but Del Bosque said it didn't mean he would be in goal against the Czechs in Toulouse.
The goalkeeper had to address the media and his teammates on Friday after a protected witness in the case against the pornography filmmaker mentioned his name to authorities. He was not being accused by authorities but they confirmed that his name appeared in court papers.
''There is no reason not to believe in him,'' Del Bosque said.
De Gea practiced normally with the rest of the squad after explaining himself and seemed in position to start if Del Bosque decided to pick him.
''I'm coming off good seasons with Manchester United,'' the 25-year-old goalkeeper said. ''We'll see what happens. I'll accept what the coach decides.''
Spain's third goalkeeper at Euro 2016 is Sevilla's Sergio Rico.
The 35-year-old Casillas, Europe's most capped player with 167 international appearances, lifted all three major trophies won by Spain in the last decade, but he was among those who played poorly when ''La Roja'' was eliminated early at the World Cup in Brazil two years ago. His move from Real Madrid to FC Porto last year also didn't help his cause in the national team, although he remains a fan favorite.
Del Bosque's reluctance to commit to Casillas as a starter is another sign of the dismantling of Spain's winning generation.
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/tales-azzoni