Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea may have been making only his first start for Spain on Thursday, but he showed that he deserves to retain the number one spot between the posts.
Prior to his outing against France at Stade de France, the 23-year-old had played just one match for the 2008 and 2012 European champions. It was a cameo appearance against El Salvador in a 2-0 victory just days before the 2014 World Cup.
The United star had come on in place of Iker Casillas for the last seven minutes of the friendly international and did not play a single minute in the tournament in Brazil.
Interestingly, De Gea would have probably been left out of Spain’s 23-man World Cup squad by coach Vicente del Bosque had Victor Valdes, then at Barcelona, not picked up a long-term injury in March.
De Gea was La Furia Roja’s third choice goalkeeper in Brazil, but he was handed the gloves ahead of Casillas and Kiko Casilla on Thursday. And he did not disappoint.
The former Atletico Madrid star made no fewer than four saves in the 90 minutes against France. Although he conceded the only goal of the friendly encounter, he was not to blame for that.
The United custodian was called into action in the early minutes when Madrid striker Karim Benzema tested him with a low shot. The 26-year-old had another effort kept out in the 38th minute, while Paul Pogba was also denied by the Spaniard.
De Gea was on his toes and always alert in the second half as well, but other than the goal that he could do nothing to stop, he did nothing wrong and came out of the match with flying colours.
Following Spain's disastrous 2014 World Cup campaign and the international retirements of a number of veterans including Xavi and Xabi Alonso, Del Bosque has started to reach out to young players.
De Gea is one of the players who has benefited from this policy, and although Casillas remains the first choice, it is not long before the United keeper takes his rightful place in goal for his country for every single match.