Casillas back in contention? How the De Gea sex case allegations are affecting Spain

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The Manchester United goalkeeper has been hit by controversy at the start of Euro 2016 and may find himself benched against Czech Republic on Monday


GOALCOMMENT

It is a story that will not go away. The sex case allegations aimed at David De Gea have hit Spain ahead of their Euro 2016 kick-off on Monday and even though Vicente del Bosque says his team are focused only on the game against the Czech Republic, the reports remain an unwanted distraction for La Roja.

De Gea is at the centre of claims that he organised a party with a Spanish pornography baron in which a woman was sexually harrassed. The Manchester United goalkeeper was not in attendance, but is accused of setting up the night for former Under-21 team-mate Iker Muniain and another unnamed player back in 2012.

The 25-year-old goalkeeper denied the stories at Spain's training base close to La Rochelle on Friday, but his name appears in a police report and alleged WhatsApp messages with a prostitute were published in the Spanish press later that night - although many have questioned the authenticity of those transcripts due to De Gea's use of "vos" (utilised in Argentina, Uruguay and Guatemala but not in Spain) instead of "tú" in the supposed chat.

Later on Friday, Del Bosque spoke on Spanish television and told Estudio Estadio: "De Gea gave the explanations he needed to and made it clear he has nothing to do with this matter. It seems he has done nothing and I have to believe him. The squad are here to support him at all times and to give him all the affection he needs."

The timing of the news is awful for De Gea, who had looked set to finally start a major tournament with Spain ahead of captain Iker Casillas. But after the testimony of a witness in court this week, he may find himself back on the bench again as Del Bosque admitted he is weighing up the situation.

"Everything that happens in life, you have to give it some thought," he said. "We are in a period of reflection and we are weighing it up. I can't say whether he will be a starter or not."


 

It seems, therefore, that Casillas is now back in contention and that the 35-year-old could add another appearance to his 167 caps for Spain as La Roja kick off their Euro 2016 campaign against the Czech Republic in Toulouse on Monday.

"I don't think it will affect the team," Pedro said on Saturday in a press conference when asked about the case. "We already know what happened yesterday. We trained as normal - David was very impressive yesterday too. We all are together and we are focused just on the game."

And in an exclusive interview with Goal, his Chelsea and Spain team-mate Cesar Azpilicueta echoed those thoughts as he said: "We are completely focused on the football and eager to start the tournament. We are preparing for the opening match and there is no more comment to make."

Publically, the players claim the story is not of interest to them, yet Goal has learned that it is a hot topic at the training camp since the news broke on Friday. And that is unlikely to please Del Bosque.

"I have been trying for 17 years to ensure that players have good conduct," he said on Friday in an interview with Radio MARCA. "We have to take as much time as we need to make sure the behaviour is ideal. Respect, education, behaviour and conduct are so important."


Reading between the lines, that could be interpreted as a hint that De Gea may not start on Monday. Del Bosque's remark that "I have to believe him" is one that does not inspire complete confidence and while the Manchester United shot-stopper has pleaded his innocence, a news story and a police report linking him with an infamous pornographer and a prostitute is not exactly the kind of publicity that will impress his coach - a man of tradition and family values.

In any case, Spain's squad remains united at the moment and Del Bosque revealed Casillas has also been very supportive of his fellow goalkeeper, while he again refused to reveal his intentions in Sunday's pre-match press conference.

For their part, the players believe the furore will die down as the days go by and are looking forward to doing their talking on the pitch in Monday's match. A positive performance in the game in Toulouse and this scandal could well blow over quite quickly - but it may just have cost De Gea his starting spot against the Czechs.

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