David De Gea: Keeper Can Finally Silence the Doubters Against Real Madrid

Aaron GalesCorrespondent IIFebruary 13, 2013

David De Gea will face a big test against Real Madrid tonight
David De Gea will face a big test against Real Madrid tonightClive Mason/Getty Images

David de Gea has come in for a great deal of unfair criticism during his time as Manchester United's No. 1 goalkeeper.

Signed at the tender age of 20 after two years in the first team of Athletico Madrid, much was expected of the man who is seen as the long term successor to Iker Casillas for Spain.

The previous 18 months have not been easy for him. Weighed down by the pressure of following Edwin van der Sar, he made a number of errors in his first season that cost United crucial points.

The Blackburn game on New Year's Eve was one such game. The general consensus was that the Spaniard was weak under a high ball and didn't have the strength or commanding presence required to dominate his area.

However, despite occasionally rotating with Anders Lindegaard, Alex Ferguson has stuck with the man he invested so much money in. He has recognised the potential that de Gea has shown and is willing to be patient, while the young man's game develops. 

The ability is there. De Gea is undoubtedly the best shotstopper in the English game. He makes saves that he has absolutely no right to make. He has saved Manchester United on any number of occasions this season as they have opened up a 12-point gap at the top of the table.

Which brings us nicely to Wednesday night's first leg in Madrid. On his return to Spain, he will be determined to impress, and he is likely to be sorely tested against players of the quality of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Although Real Madrid do like to put crosses into the box he won't face the same aerial bombardment that he comes up against in the Premier League every week.

De Gea will want to prove the critics wrong, and against Real Madrid, he has the ideal stage to do so.