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Arrizabalaga to battle De Gea, Pau Lopez for Spain No.1

Introduce real competition

Spain v Sweden -EURO Qualifier Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Since the end of Iker Casillas’ long reign between the goalposts, the Spanish national team’s undisputed first-choice goalkeeper had been David de Gea.

But over the past year, Kepa Arrizabalaga has introduced some real competition on the back of his world record move from Athletic Bilbao to Chelsea. In fact, towards the end of last season, the Chelsea No.1 appeared to ascend to the top of the depth chart, with three consecutive starts in Euro 2020 qualifying, against Malta, Faroe Islands, and Sweden. Three wins and two clean sheets later, the matter appeared to be settled and many called it as such.

But it is not so, according to new Spain head coach, Roberto Moreno, who had served as Luis Enrique’s assistant previously, at both Barcelona and Spain, before Lucho stepped down from the post this summer due to personal reasons. Moreno had already served as interim boss before then, even.

“My goalkeepers are De Gea, Kepa and [Roma’s] Pau Lopez. I like that there is competition. Kepa is not ahead of De Gea, and neither is ahead of Pau.

“I want to get to the Euros with three goalkeepers who are ready to compete. They are all playing at a high level and there are nuances and differences between them. All three have good footwork.

“At Barca, we won the treble [while] alternating goalkeepers.”

-Robert Moreno; source: Cadena SER via Daily Mail

While it is understandable that Moreno doesn’t want to guarantee anyone the starting job, and he probably just wants to create some healthy competition between the three goalkeepers, it’s a somewhat surprising line considering that Kepa appeared to win this competition already in the spring.

He’ll just have to win it again then.

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