A terrible decision on Jose Mourinho’s part has likely put an end to Real Madrid’s chances at defending their La Liga title in the 2012-13 season.
At their game with Malaga, Mourinho made a surprising move and benched world-class goalkeeper Iker Casillas in favor of backup Antonio Adan. The 25-year old Spaniard has made only 8 appearances at his 4 years with Madrid, and he was clearly in no shape to face 4th-placed Malaga at their game today.
Casillas is captain of Real Madrid and the Spanish National Team, both of which have recorded major victories under his leadership. He is a very popular and respected player among his teammates and fans of Real Madrid, and is considered one of the best goalkeepers in history. The FIFPro vote saw Casillas voted top goalkeeper by players all around the world 4 years in a row, and will likely win again next month. This was the 1st time in 54 important league matches that Casillas had not started for Real Madrid, and the squad was clearly not happy with Mourinho. In response to the manager’s decision, Carles Puyol, a Madrid defender, said:
“It surprised us, Iker is our captain.”
Mourinho failed to give any reasonable justification as to his controversial decision, only that he thought Adan was in better shape than Casillas.
“We hadn’t been playing well in different aspects of the game, among which was our defence. It was a technical decision. My opinion is the one that matters. I analysed the players I had available and picked the team to play. You can invent the story you want but it is a purely technical decision and nothing more.”
But no matter what reason he gives, one thing will always remain true: By virtue of the inexperienced backup goalkeeper, Mourinho practically handed Malaga 3 points against one of the best teams in the world.
Adan was not tested much in the first half of the match, but conceded 3 goals in the 2nd half and managed only 3 fairly basic saves.
Isco scored Malaga’s 1st of the game, but an own goal from Sergio Sanchez equalized the score at 1-1 on the 66th minute. Santa Cruz put Malaga back on top just 7 minutes later, and then doubled their lead on the 76th minute. A desperate attempt to at least gain a single point at Malaga saw Benzema score Madrid’s 2nd goal, but they were unable to tie it up before the final whistle.
Continuing to defend his decision to have Adan start after Madrid’s defeat, Mourinho said that the goalkeeper had “no influence on the result.” In response to questions about a possible removal from the team in his future, Mourinho said:
“Fear for my job? I have never feared for my job.”
“Neither before, during or after the game have I thought about resigning.”
But despite his confidence, Real Madrid President Florentino Perez has a lot to think about now that they head into their brief winter break.
The game, which ended in a 3-2 win for Malaga, was Real Madrid’s 4th loss in La Liga and their 7th in all leagues this season. They are now 16 points short of league leaders and arch-rivals Barcelona, who have a total of 49 points from their astonishing 16-1-0 record. Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid, who have 40 points from their 13-1-3 record, still separate Real Madrid from Barcelona. Real Madrid now have 33 points due to their 10 wins, 3 draws, and now 4 losses, while Malaga are just 2 points short in 4th place with 31 (with a record of 9-4-4).