Managing Madrid's Player Reviews: Iker Casillas

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 25: Iker Casillas of Real Madrid saves a penalty of Philipp Lahm of Bayern (not in the picture) during the UEFA Champions League semi final second leg match between Real Madrid and Bayern Muenchen at Bernabeu Stadium on April 25, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Welcome to this new segment at Managing Madrid's. In these Player Reviews, we will take a look at how Real Madrid's players performed in this 2011-12 season. We will follow a numerical order, and that means Iker Casillas will be the first one, Carvalho the second, and Jesús Fernández (number 25) the last player to be analyzed. This is very subjective, join the debate and express your opinion respectfully at the comment section!

Real Madrid's captain and starting goakeeper Iker Casillas was able to raise another trophy in José Mourinho's second year. He is now 31 years old and is entering the last phase of his career. But, has he improved any during his decade as Real Madrid's starting goalie? Is he now better than before? I believe not.

It is always hard to analyze a goalkeeper. But it is even harder to do it when this goalkeeper is Iker Casillas, one of the most important symbols of the club in these past fifteen years. He was the official savior of the 9th Champions League title after he stopped three Bayer Leverkusen's chances and earned the San Iker nickname. In the years after that game, Casillas was forced to play with a mediocre defensive line. Cannavaro and Samuel never adapted to the Spanish league, and Pavón, Miñambres and Mejías weren't good enough to start for this team. Only Iván Helguera kept the Fernando Hierro legacy alive in the club.

This poor defense made Casillas work a lot. He received a lot of good scoring opportunities and stopped most of them. He was arguably one of the best goalies in the world even with his aerial mistakes and bad skills when the ball on his feet. One thought this young guy could improve a lot in those aspects, but at this point of his career, Casillas still has the same problems as when he was only 22. Who is to blame still is a mystery. Maybe he didn't have the chance to work with good, specific trainers, or he might have enjoyed too much the starting role forgetting his duties to improve. Real Madrid fans will never know.

This 2011-12 Iker Casillas season was below average. It would have been good enough with probably 80% of the world's goalkeepers, but his year was bad for a man of his talent. It's true that he put Real Madrid back in the fight for the Champions League Final in the penalty shootout against FC Bayern. It's also true that he played really well in the 1-2 victory against Barcelona in the Camp Nou, but his mistakes against Málaga and (specially) Villarreal could have cost Real Madrid the Liga title. Cazorla's shot was very precise and was very difficult to stop, but one week later the ball went in right where he was supposed to be in a very similar situation against Villarreal's Marcos Senna.

Other than that, the Spanish player doesn't have the same amount of job that he had in the Schuster, Capello or Queiroz's eras. His defensive line is quite better now and his games are more relaxed. Maybe that's why the fans are hoping to see a more reliable Casillas in the corner-kicks or whenever he has to put the ball into play. He definitely has the talent to stop, but he should've improved a little bit more in those areas during these years.

Some believe Real Madrid should sign a decent reserve goalkeeper to force Casillas to work harder. Some others still see Casillas as the greatest goalie in the world. The truth lies on an intermediate point. He can definitely impact a game (see the Copa del Rey Final last year), but Casillas also should be a little more solid in the aerial game and passing his teammates.

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