Del Bosque: We can manage without Casillas

Iker Casillas - Real Madrid

Spain boss Vincente Del Bosque has admitted Iker Casillas’ absence will be a blow, but insists he has faith in the goalkeepers lower down the Roja pecking order.

The 31-year-old is set to miss Spain’s friendly with Uruguay next week due to a fractured hand, an injury that could potentially sideline the Real Madrid stopper for a further three months.

Victor Valdes and Pepe Reina will be among the candidates to step in for Casillas and, while Del Bosque has noted the importance of his captain, he is confident he will be adequately covered.

“Iker Casillas will be a significant absence, because he is the most capped player for Spain and has an impeccable track record,” Del Bosque told Murcia.

“But we must look at other goalkeepers who are also very good. The competition is great and it is not easy to choose.

The 63-year-old also revealed he will introduce the new generation of La Roja stars and hopes they can adapt well to the international stage.

“We now have to respect all those who have brought us to where we are and who are at a relatively young age, but we are also anticipating the new ones that deserve to be included and who we must combine well.”

A draw in Madrid would not be a good result, says Busquets

Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets believes a draw against Real Madrid in their upcoming Copa del Rey semi-final first-leg clash will not be a good result.

Tito Vilanova’s men have a 15-point advantage over Blancos in La Liga, and the Spain international will not settle for anything other than a win on Wednesday.

“We’re coming into the clasico in fine form. A good result will be beating Madrid, not drawing,” the 24-year-old told reporters.

“It’ll be a balanced game even if there are some players missing. We need to focus on it from our own perspective. Who’s knocked out won’t be decided at the Bernabeu.”

Busquets also praised team-mate Lionel Messi, who scored four goals during their 5-1 win over Osasuna and became the youngest player ever to score 200 Liga goals.

He added: “I don’t think he needs any special motivation. That’s the way he is and he wants to improve everyday, and he does!

“That’s why he’s the best in the world and really makes such a great difference.”

Barca’s clash with Madrid kicks off at 21:00 CET.

Roura: Barcelona are not favourites against Real Madrid

Tito Vilanova’s assistant Jordi Roura has stated that he does not consider Barcelona favourites for the upcoming Copa del Rey clash at Real Madrid.

The Catalan side currently top the Liga table with an 11-point advantage over second-placed Atletico Madrid, while Jose Mourinho’s men sit in third spot, already 15 points behind the leaders.

However, the 45-year-old does not believe the current standings of the two clubs should give his players a reason to become complacent.

“We still don’t feel we are the favourites,” he told reporters.

“This is a knockout fixture and there are two legs. There is no clear favourite.”

Lionel Messi put on another outstanding performance, scoring four goals during Barcelona’s 5-1 win against Osasuna on Sunday and Roura spoke about his delight at working with the Argentine on a daily basis.

“When you live and work alongside him, you take it all very calmly, but when you stop and think, you raise your hands in astonishment”.

He also talked about regular contact with coach Vilanova, who is still undergoing treatment following a cancer relaps in December, ensuring that the trainer still plays a major role when it comes to decision-making.

“We are in constant contact, and he sees the games. We talk about all the decisions to be made,” he noted.

Barcelona’s clash with Real Madrid kicks off at 21.00CET on Wednesday, January 30 at the Santiago Bernabeu.


Xavi signs new Barcelona deal until 2016

xavi signs new contract

Xavi has signed a new contract with Barcelona until June 30 2016, the club have confirmed.

The midfielder, who turned 33 last Friday, agreed to extend his current deal by two years back in December, and has now officially put pen to paper.

Xavi signed the deal at Camp Nou alongside Barca president Sandro Rosell, vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu and sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta.

Carles Puyol signed his own extension until 2016 on January 22, but Lionel Messi is yet to make his commitment to the club – this time until 2018 – official.

The Blaugrana are preparing to face rivals Real Madrid in Wednesday night’s clasico, and Xavi had earlier stated that he remains fearful of what los Blancos are capable of.

“These games are always unpredictable. We are really in good shape to compete right now but anything can happen in football, and particularly against Real Madrid,” he told the Times of India.

“They will be missing a few important players, but they are Real Madrid after all and they will compete well, I’m sure. Despite their current situation, they are a dangerous opponent.”

The first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg kicks off at 21:00CET at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.

I have not signed to replace Casillas at Real Madrid, says Lopez

Real Madrid keeper Diego Lopez insists he has not been bought to replace Iker Casillas.

The 31-year-old, who originally departed the Santiago Bernabeu in 2007, returned to the capital for €3.5 million from Sevilla last Friday, with many tipping him to dislodge the club captain from the starting XI.

“It is a pleasure to return to my club. Everything is like it was when I left, the facilities and employees,” he told reporters at a press conference.

“I don’t plan on taking Casillas’ place but on a day-to-day basis, we have a game on Wednesday and need to focus on that. Now we are two goalkeepers and we have to solve the situation.

“When the coach makes a change we must respect him. Iker has earned everything he has achieved, but football is a day to day business.”

Lopez then commented on Victor Valdes’ decision not to extend his current deal at Barcelona and believes the Blaugrana goalkeeper has acted in the best interests of the club.

“It’s a personal decision. [His timing] gives the club the opportunity to rearrange, but he is a great professional and will work until the end of his contract.”