COS contributor Pablo Siguenza wonders whether Nou Camp’s goalkeeping supremo will ever get the national recognition he deserves.
3 League titles, 1 national cup and 2 Champions League wins are the credentials of a proven winner, a player that has appeared 352 for the club who nurtured him through the youth ranks, and surely the National team’s first choice? Well, if you are Victor Valdes you don’t need to use any finger on either hand to count the chances of being the last line of defence for your country. The FC Barcelona goalkeeper has never been capped for the Spanish national team, mainly due to the presence of Iker Casillas, the Madrid poster-boy that has played second fiddle to the player from L’Hospitalet de Llobregat for the past 2 seasons in La Liga.
During a March interview Valdes stated “my club comes first but being called up to the national team would be a dream come true.” and the Spanish media is leaning towards his selection ahead of the likes of Pepe Reina of Liverpool and Diego Lopez of Villarreal. The choice is up to Vicente del Bosque, a former Real Madrid midfielder who last year admitted to being “unjust with Victor Valdes in certain occasions” when picking players but added “Valdes has category and class.” The Spanish manager is in a peculiar predicament that Fabio Capello would surely envy, and that is: with so many quality keepers, who do you take to South Africa? If the starting spot was to be determined by merit, and merit only, Valdes would be ahead of the pack, as he is the reigning Zamora trophy winner, an award handed to the net minder with the best goals per game ratio in Spain, and is on pace for a second consecutive title with 0.63 coefficient (19 goals in 30 games) well ahead of Casillas who is in second place with 26 goals allowed in 30 games.
Saturdays Spanish derby helped Valdes’ case with a superb performance, which saw him face 7 shots on goal (3 more than Casillas) and deny crucial build ups with a cool and collected demeanour, most notably on a clear chance for goal against Rafael van der Vaart. With 2 friendly’s remaining before La Furia Roja’s trip to South Africa, Del Bosque has an obligation to consider testing Valdes against Korea and Poland, and the pressure will grow on the gaffer if Barcelona succeed to defend their League and Champions League titles.
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