De Gea: Spain’s number one in waiting
On Sunday night, Barcelona bounced back from their shock defeat against Hercules by beating Atletico Madrid 2-1. But Pep Guardiola’s team should have won by more than one goal and they would have if it was not for David de Gea.
Atletico’s nineteen year old goalkeeper was in terrific form at the Vicente Calderon, saving second half attempts from David Villa, Xavi and Andres Iniesta. In fact, he denied Villa several times!
Despite his young age, de Gea has already enjoyed Champions League football, he played in and won last season’s Europa League final and he is a regular starter for Spain’s Under 21 team. Although the Madrid-born lad was named in Vicente del Bosque’s initial thirty-man squad for the 2010 World Cup, he failed to make the final cut.
de Gea is a superb shot stopper and at 1.92 metres (or six feet, four inches), he is a towering and commanding presence in the Atletico back line.
Whilst there is no danger of him displacing Iker Casillas in the Spain goal just yet, I think there is a very good chance that he will be a regular in del Bosque’s squad, come Euro 2012. And then by the time we are watching the 2016 European Championship, de Gea will still only be twenty-five; Casillas – more importantly – will be thirty-five.
It was unfortunate that Lionel Messi left the pitch on Sunday on a stretcher, following a clumsy challenge from Tomas Ujfalusi. Having seen replays after the match, it actually looks worse than when I saw it for the first time! (News reports from Barcelona on Monday indicate that Messi suffered ligament damage and will be out at least two matches. — Editor)
With Atletico losing, Valencia are now the only team in La Primera to have won three out of three; Los Che won 2-1 against Hercules.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid beat Real Sociedad 2-1 on Saturday night, to maintain their unbeaten start under new head coach, Jose Mourinho. It was a tough game for Madrid, as La Real were not content with just sitting back and fighting for a home draw.
It was interesting to see Cristiano Ronaldo passing the ball a lot more on the edge of the box. Against Ajax — and perhaps in general — he rarely plays the ball out wide or looks for a team mate, when there is a chance to score. Maybe Jose has had a quiet word!
We have a packed ten days now in La Liga, with the first midweek round of matches followed by more league games next weekend and European ties after that.
For Messi though, it will be a boring and frustrating few weeks.