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2014 WORLD CUP | FINLAND - SPAIN

Del Bosque: Iker harmed by bid to ease Madrid-Barça tensions

Vicente del Bosque has told radio station Onda Cero: "He helped the Spain team to move forward and keep on winning things. That didn't go down well."

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Speaking on Spanish radio, Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has offered his take on the situation of goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who has remained on the Real Madrid bench since losing his place under former coach José Mourinho. In an interview with Onda Cero, Del Bosque suggested that Casillas’ problems began with his attempts to ease tensions between Real Madrid and Barcelona following a series of stormy ‘Clásicos’.

Casillas: “He was a very important figure in keeping harmony in our national team. During difficult moments for the Spain team, when there were tensions arising from the matches between Madrid and Barcelona, he helped the national team to move forward and keep on winning trophies such as the last European Championships [in 2012]. That didn't go down well, and Iker was undoubtedly harmed by that. It’s caused by the radicalism of the fans that makes them only see football from the point of view of their passion for their team and their antipathy towards their rivals.”

Starting goalkeeper against Finland: “We have faith in each of our three goalkeepers; we’re confident in their capacity to play. If they are mentally prepared then we have the problem of choosing one. Whoever we choose, he’ll be accepted and applauded; but, on the other hand, he’ll also be criticised because of the debate that is currently open. We’re at the beginning of the season and there isn’t a huge difference between the players that have played [for their clubs] and those that haven’t.”

The 1-1 draw against Finland in March: “I’ve watched the game in Gijón a number of times and it seems unbelievable that we didn’t win. We were much the better side, but we couldn’t kill the game off. We resolved that situation by beating France, but we’re still in a tight qualification group. This [the match in Finland] is a key match.”

Absentees Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso: “For a while, we have kept together an important core of players who have achieved a lot of success. We have some significant absences, but we also have confidence in those who are going to replace them.”

Atlético Madrid’s Koke at right-back: “He’s a disciplined lad with energy, he has a lot of quality and a good touch. He brings together the qualities to play anywhere. If he ends up playing, he’ll adapt to wherever we put him.”

Saturday's vote for the host city of the 2020 Olympics: “It’s a difficult time for this country, and the Olympics would give us a boost. Should Madrid win the bid, policies would be put into action right away that would benefit the economy.”

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