Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/19/14
Real-madrid-training
Maybe Iker Casillas was sending a secret message. That’s the only explanation we can offer for his choice of fashion. The Real Madrid icon was benched for the first time in over a decade on Saturday. He wore a pair of thigh-high, red-and-black-striped socks as he watched his team slump to a 3-2 defeat against Malaga. No offense to fans of Brazilians club Flamengo, but Casillas’ socks were downright hideous. Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho started goalkeeper Antonio Adan instead of Casillas. There was reportedly little the 25-year-old backup could do to stop Malaga’s first and third goals, but he was said to be at fault for the second. Rumors are rife that there is a rift between the Portuguese manager and several influential figures at the Spanish club, including its captain and star goalkeeper Casillas. Many thought benching Casillas was the result of a personality clash, but Mourinho denies those charges, according to Football Espana. “[Leaving Casillas out] was purely a technical decision,” Mourinho said. “I analyzed the situation and chose the team. You can try and invent whatever you want, but it was a purely technical decision.” Mourinho’s decision sent shockwaves around the dressing room, Real Madrid’s fanbase and the wider soccer world. Casillas discussed the situation on Sunday, choosing to simultaneously take the high road and refer to himself in the third person (if that’s at all possible). “The coach decides which team he thinks is best for each match and you need to accept the decision,” FIFA.com reports Casillas told La Sexta Television. “I’m not used to being a substitute, but above Iker Casillas or any player is the team. What I need to do is continue training and try to recover the confidence of the coach. “I feel good, but it is the coach who decides who plays. It will be a nice battle with Antonio. There is a healthy rivalry between us.” It came as no surprise to the World and European champion when he was omitted from the starting lineup. “Throughout the week I could sense that I wasn’t going to play but it’s not a setback,” he added. “The important thing was that the team won in Malaga to cut the gap to Barça and Atletico. Mourinho didn’t explain anything to me. He doesn’t do it when I play, nor when I don’t.” Real Madrid’s season has been torpedoed by crisis and conflict. The defending La Liga champion heads into the winter break trailing FC Barcelona by 16 points, and winning the UEFA Champions League is the only thing that can salvage what is almost certainly Mourinho’s final season at the club. It’s hard to think that benching Casillas will restore peace and harmony to the dressing room. But how can Casillas’ suspect fashion sense help him regain the manager’s confidence. It seems like a vicious cycle that can only end one way: with Mourinho jumping ship and Casillas getting a wardrobe makeover. Have a look at those socks below. Have a question for Marcus Kwesi O’Mard? Send it to him via Twitter at @NESNsoccer, NESN Soccer’s Facebook page or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag. Photo via Twitter/@MessiCR7Neymar
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