Spain secured top spot in Group B despite a 2-2 draw against Morocco this week, but the nation continues to argue over whether goalkeeper David De Gea should retain his starting spot.
De Gea came in for scrutiny after his costly error against Portugal, as the Manchester United shot-stopper fumbled Cristiano Ronaldo's shot into the goal. In the aftermath, Spanish newspaper Marca carried out a poll asking fans who they would opt for as their goalkeeper. With 160,000 votes cast, Athletic Bilbao's Kepa Arrizabalaga receiving the most votes with 49 percent.
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Spain coach Fernando Hierro did come out and publicly backed De Gea midway through the group stages.
He has all of our confidence. I see him calm, training the same as always. I have very clear ideas and I know what path we have to follow. My experience tells me that sportsmen need to be given confidence not just in the good times.
2010 World Cup winner Joan Capdevila is the latest figure to come out back De Gea, as he said in an interview with Radio MARCA. "For me, De Gea has only made one mistake between the sticks, which was that Cristiano Ronaldo goal against Portugal. Personally, I would keep him as the goalkeeper. There's a need to show him confidence."
Former players are at the heart of this debate, with Santiago Cañizares, who was called up for four World Cups, telling AS De Gea is “transparently not confident.” The same day as that interview, that publication also reported that Hierro could ‘stop the bleeding of Spain’ by dropping De Gea.
After a stellar season with Jose Mourinho's side in the Premier League, De Gea bizarrely slipped into poor form with Spain and made a blunder in their warm-up against Switzerland. He did not make his first save of the tournament until the Morrocco match and reports continue to suggest he may be dropped for Spain's last 16 tie against Russia. That fixture will take place this Sunday.