Lopez talks Casillas omission, lauds Lopetegui

Diego Lopez has revealed that, unlike many, he wasn’t surprised Julen Lopetegui dropped Iker Casillas from the Spain squad. Lopetegui, a former goalkeeper, signed Casillas for Porto in 2015 and regards him as “a friend”, but he hasn’t picked the 35-year-old since replacing Vicente Del Bosque following UEFA EURO 2016, instead selecting David De Gea, Pepe Reina, Sergio Rico and Adrian.

“I wasn’t surprised,” said Lopez, who won a battle with Casillas to be Real Madrid’s first-choice keeper until his move to AC Milan in 2014. “I think he’s one , but there’s a lot of competition. Everyone had to work under the same conditions and, from there, who deserves to go, goes, and who doesn’t has to work harder to try and go in the future.

"The national team is open to all. Lopetegui is showing that anybody has a chance of being called up, and that’s important for Spanish football. It doesn’t matter what team you play for for, what you’re called, or how old you are.

“I have to congratulate him. It was the way to revive Spain and it’s working.”

Lopez, on loan at Espanyol from Milan, went to the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2009 but ultimately played just once for his country. Casillas, who helped a Spain squad including Carlos Marchena and Xavi win the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1999, made his senior debt, aged just 19, the following year and has since won a record 167 caps. He also kept five clean sheets during La Roja’s triumphant 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ campaign, and finished it with the adidas Golden Glove.

Spain have conceded only one goal in four games under Lopetegui. They sit top of Group G in European qualifying for Russia 2018, above Italy on goal difference, with Albania and Israel a point behind.

The Spaniards play their final preliminary of the year at home to FYR Macedonia on 12 November, before taking on England in a Wembley friendly three days later.