Iker Casillas played the hero against Rayo, but he’ll be on the bench once more

Yesterday Rayo Vallecano dominated Real Madrid en route to a 0-2 defeat at home in Vallecas. After the game, Rayo’s brilliant and charismatic coach Paco Jemez said the key player was Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who saved his team on a number of occasions with top quality saves:

Casillas has closed a lot of mouths. Real hadn’t been shot at so many times in a long while and he was the man that stopped us scoring. He is still one of the greatest goalkeepers there is and today he has vindicated himself as one of the best: Once again, he has shown us just what he is made of.

Real Madrid’s next game is this Saturday, at home, against the mighty mighty Eibar. Casillas will be on the bench for that game, with Keylor Navas getting the start.

Casillas’ situation at Real Madrid is a weird one. He’s never been able to recover from the merciless and orchestrated character assassination at the hands of José Mourinho. For a thorough and complete background of the episode you can read Billy Haisley’s excellent explainer at Deadspin and my follow up for this site.

What we have here is a situation where Casillas, one of the greatest players Madrid has ever had, gets jeered at home to the point where the coach finds it prudent to isolate him from his own fans. Casillas got booed at home against Shalke 04. The next home game against Levante, he was benched. Now after yet another booing session from the fans during a 9-1 victory over Granada, he will sit on the bench at the Bernabeu.

I honestly can’t remember a similar situation with any other player. But the legacy of Mourinho’s reign of terror at Madrid is a complicated and weird one. It’s almost like he was able to brainwash a certain sector of Madrid fans (as well as many journalists). Some might even go so far as to believe Mourinho still has them doing his bidding, continuing to fight his paranoid wars.

Now it’s nearly inevitable. Iker Casillas’ storied career at Real Madrid will have a sad, frustrating, and long end. He still has a contract through 2017, and all reports indicate that he wishes to honor it. But the club doesn’t look too eager to keep him around, and will probably go after David De Gea or something.

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