- World Cup
Casillas critical of England goalkeepers
Iker Casillas has launched a scathing attack on England's goalkeepers, claiming that their lack of big-game experience could cost Fabio Capello's side at the World Cup.
With more than 100 caps for his country, Casillas seems likely to be the man standing between the posts for Spain in South Africa, but he is being pushed hard for a starting berth by Pepe Reina and Victor Valdes, who can both boast top-level experience with Liverpool and Barcelona respectively.
And while Valdes and Real Madrid stopper Casillas ply their trade with the top two clubs in Spain, you have to go down as far as ninth in the Premier League table to find Birmingham's Joe Hart, who is not even likely to be Capello's No.1.
David James and Robert Green both endured relegation battles rather than Champions League nights with their respective clubs last season and that, according to Casillas, could harm England's chances of progression.
"I can see why both Lionel Messi and Xavi have talked up England's chances at the World Cup because their class is undisputed. But their goalkeeping situation is a real problem," Casillas said.
"None of the keepers have played even European Cup level, that's the highest level you can play at club level. And if you have never played in the top club competition in the world, you are going to find it hard to perform at the top international level in the world when even more eyes are on you.
"If you look at myself, Gigi Buffon of Italy and Julio Cesar of Brazil, we are keepers who've all won European Championships, World Cups and European Cups. At this level nerves play a big part and any mistake a goalkeeper makes is going to be scrutinised.
Casillas praised the potential of the highly-rated Hart but still expects him to play a reserve role, predicting that Capello will pick Green as his first choice between the sticks at the finals.
"It's not always about ability at the World Cup, it's about having been there before and knowing how to handle the big games. I don't see that England coach Fabio Capello has any choice but to play Robert Green. It doesn't matter if Joe Hart has more natural ability.
"To throw him into the World Cup with no experience would be crazy and Fabio is far more intelligent than that. He has stuck with Robert Green throughout the qualifying stages and that is the way I am sure it will stay."
"John Terry is one of the best centre-backs in the world but even the best centre-backs must have confidence in their goalkeeper. But apart from the keeper situation England are very strong and I'd put them in the top three favourites, along with us and Brazil."