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Dhaka Tribune

Spain coach Lopetegui says to pick squad on form not reputation

Update : 18 Aug 2016, 08:38 PM
Spain coach Julen Lopetegui said he respects Iker Casillas' contribution to the national team but said he will make no special allowances for the goalkeeper or any other players when it comes to selecting his squad. The former Porto coach succeeded Vicente del Bosque last month and will name his first squad next week for Spain's international friendly away to Belgium on Sept. 2 and their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign opener at home to Liechtenstein three days later. One of the biggest decisions the new coach will have to make is whether to include Casillas, Spain's most capped player and the man who captained them to the European Championship triumphs in 2008 and 2012 and their only World Cup win in 2010. Casillas played second fiddle to Manchester United custodian David de Gea at Euro 2016 and Del Bosque admitted after the tournament that he had fallen out with the former Real Madrid goalkeeper. Lopetegui worked alongside Casillas last season at Porto until he was sacked earlier this year, and although he praised the goalkeeper's international career, he made it clear he would pick players on form and not reputation.
"I'm very sensitive to what Iker Casillas has won, very respectful and very grateful for his achievements and commitment to the national team, but I will not make decisions because of that, I'll make them on performances," Lopetegui said.
"That's the case with Casillas and everyone else. You have to be very respectful for the players that marked an era with the national team and Casillas is one of them, but there are others as well. "I insist that the first criteria to get into the squad is performance, ahead of any respect for the careers of those players." Spain must finish top of qualifying Group G containing Italy, who knocked them out of Euro 2016, Albania, Israel, Macedonia and Liechtenstein to guarantee their place in the next World Cup, with the second-placed team entering the play-offs. "We're aware of the difficulty of qualifying but also of Spain's capacity and power," added Lopetegui. "I'm aware of the difficulty but I believe in the Spain players, who are talented and ambitious. Our aim is to be more of a team. "There's a lot of hard work ahead but I'll manage it with responsibility and enthusiasm."
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