According to reports in Spain, Real Madrid CF captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas (30) telephoned FC Barcelona’s captains, defender Carles Puyol (33) and midfielder Xavi Hernández (31), to apologize for his behavior after Barcelona won the Spanish Super Cup on Wednesday. It is hoped that dialogue between the three club and national team captains can help resolve any conflict at club level before it reaches the Spanish national team.
Casillas has long been held in high regard by football fans, players, and coaches for his even temper and undisputed skill, traits that have led him to the Spanish national team captaincy as well. It seems, though, that he has lost favor in the public eye after his conduct throughout last year’s string of El Clásicos (including not congratulating Barcelona’s La Liga and Champion’s League triumphs) as well as with such remarks as “Marcelo committed a foul and they [Barcelona] threw themselves to the ground, like always” made after this season’s Super Cup.
Casillas seemed to have realized the error of his ways and attempted to contact Xavi first to apologize, but could not reach him. Xavi and Casillas have a long history, having advanced through the youth Spanish national teams and into the senior team together, and despite their club rivalry have developed a very strong friendship. The two were seen in the midst of a heated discussion on the pitch during the brawl that occurred after Marcelo’s (23) foul on Cesc Fàbregas (24). Though many were quick to assume that Xavi ignored Casillas’ call, the real reason was that Casillas had an old phone number of Xavi’s. When the maestro heard that Casillas had tried to call him, Xavi contacted him himself on Saturday and the two were able to talk.
In Xavi’s stead on Friday, however, Casillas called Puyol and was able to speak to him. According to El Mundo Deportivo, Casillas apologized for the post-match comments he made to the press about Marcelo’s tackle and the overall conduct of his team, presumably the fights, not staying on the pitch for the trophy ceremony, and coach José Mourinho’s antics.
These calls are seen as crucial steps to heal rifts that might affect the World Cup winning Spanish National team, which is comprised of mainly Barcelona and Madrid players. Casillas, Xavi, and Puyol are all veterans with a lot of influence and will be key to not letting club contentions compromise the national team’s performance.
Head coach Vicente del Bosque could be seen in the stands of Camp Nou during the second leg of the Super Cup, but has remained silent on his thoughts of the game’s violent end. Though both Del Bosque and his players have assured that club disputes won’t upset the national team, this Super Cup may have crossed the line.
The national team has two upcoming games, a friendly against Chile on September 2 and a European Championship qualifier against Liechtenstein on September 6. How Barcelona and Madrid players interact during these matches will be vital to seeing if the team that has won everything together can keep from falling apart.
Image Credit: Pere Punti, El Mundo Deportivo