The decision to name Diego Lopez in the starting 11 against Real Betis last weekend caught many Madridistas by surprise. Many had expected Iker Casillas to be named as the number one keeper in the wake of Jose Mourinho’s departure from the Santiago Bernabeu in May.
That was not the case however, and judging by Carlo Ancelottis history, the man from Mostoles has a difficult job to reclaim the gloves from Diego Lopez. The Italian is man man of strong and fixed ideas and statistics show that the keeper he picks to be number one in the first game of the season normally remains unchallenged for the rest of the campaign.
But Casillas should not give up hope however, and in Gianluigi Buffon, there is a precedent set regarding switching keepers during the campaign – in 1996/97. The current Juventus stopper, then of Parma, started the season as back-up to Luca Bucci – not just any old keeper, but an Italy international.
That wasn’t enough for Bucci though, who in the eight match of the campaign was dropped to the bench by Ancelotti following a disastrous performance in a 3-1 defeat to Inter Milan. The decision worked perfectly for the now Madrid manager and Buffon, as the keeper conceded just 17 goals in 27 matches, numbers that catapulted Parma to a second place finish in Seria A and the club’s first ever qualification for the Champions League.