Courtois makes a stop in the first round match against Atlético in Valdebebas.Angel Martinez / Getty Images
Now that Thibaut Courtois (Bree, 28 years old) feels strong and safe under the goal of Damocles from Madrid, he and his people more The next ones naturally recognize the difficulties of their beginnings at the Bernabéu, a time that blurred the Belgian. They have done so in recent months, revealing details and names in a confession that is not so common in football when one still lives with the aforementioned.
The goalkeeper himself revealed, for example, that his relationship with Zidane was "a bit distant from principle ”, a coldness that was resolved, he said, in a conversation in the summer of 2019. His national goalkeeping coach, Erwin Lemmens, also said they had to“ work hard to rebuild ”the goal after he retired. sick and whistled by the public in a Champions League game against Bruges in the fall of 2019, his darkest moment. And Courtois himself recently admitted that, when crossing the Valdebebas dressing room, he met a leader of the pack, Sergio Ramos, who was "a good friend of Keylor Navas ", his competitor under sticks in a bicephaly that weighed down everyone. Also to the Costa Rican, who a few days ago pointed out that "a part of the club did not totally believe" in him.
The hole suffered by Zidane by Benzema's injury would be identical in the absence of Courtois. The Belgian only rested on the cupbearer trigger
That was the zero kilometer of Courtois as a target, according to the words of its protagonists. A very stony path that took him a year to get out and that has nothing to do with his present. There is no excess of certainties in this Madrid that has been in the gorge all year, but one of them so far has been him. The options of his team in the Wanda derby this Sunday (16.15, Movistar LaLiga) go largely through his size 11 gloves
Now that Zizou has felt the irreparable sinkhole that remains in the attack after Benzema's injury , the scope of the Belgian goalkeeper's squad is similar to that of the French. For the rest of the key pieces, the technician can find efficient fixes, as has been seen for the moment with the loss of Ramos. However, in the absence of the striker and the goalkeeper, there is only vertigo under ZZ's feet. Only once did he give Courtois a day off this season and it was the night of the cupbearer's trigger in Alcoy, the only presence of cadet Lunin , who barely added 30 games in three seasons. Last season, at this point, Areola had already accumulated seven appearances.
The blessing of the club to his figure is resounding. “Without a doubt, Madrid's best goalkeeper from the best Casillas”, they warn, leaving Keylor Navas, the goalkeeper of the three Champions in a row, out of the equation. "It is a marvel", they finish in the compliment. Beyond internal considerations that always have a political component, his growing weight in the team is undoubted. Also when you take off your gloves. He is one of the regulars when it comes to analyzing meetings hot, nothing less than in such a complex universe where every detail counts. And, when he goes out, he does it almost always to say things: to complain about the referee (in Elche and in the Super Cup), to get pissed off as ZZ by the trip to Pamplona in full storm of Filomena or to recognize that the tactical change of the French against the Real hadn't been good for them.
“He is not a guy obsessed with videos or mandangas, but he is a student of soccer. He has the soul of a coach ”, they comment in Madrid.
This season, the porosity of the whites in some phases has affected their numbers compared to the great record of the previous season, although that has not prevented them from leaving merit interventions almost every week in a team that often plays on wire and with markers on one fist. His percentage of stops in the league is the fourth best (73.33%), behind his colleague across the street this Sunday, Oblak (78.67%), de Bono (78.26%) and Ter Stegen (74.6 %). Last season he led this section with 79.17%. In any case, they are figures much higher than those of his distressed debut as a target, when he was barely 64% successful.
Against Atlético his personal moments have not mattered, he has always done well, even with Chelsea (a win and a draw in 2017/18). Under the sticks of Madrid he has four consecutive derbies with a clean sheet, was decisive in the penalty shootout of the final of the Spanish Super Cup a year ago (he stopped a shot from Thomas) and has barely conceded a goal in the six games played, in a 1-3 victory in February 2019. Griezmann got it. This time they will face Luis Suárez (16 league goals). They have crossed paths six times in their careers and only once has the Uruguayan scored, although it was to torture him: a triplet in the Belgian's first classic (5-1, with Messi injured) in what was Lopetegui's last match against in front of Madrid.
Mariano, the last to fall into Real Madrid
“He is not a guy obsessed with videos or mandangas, but he is a student of football. See a lot. He likes it and has the soul of a coach ”, they comment at the club. "All the work of studying the rival and analyzing the opponent's plays is done by the goalkeeper coach and then he shares it with the three goalkeepers," they add.
Between 2011 and 2014 he played on loan at the Calderón by Chelsea and lifted more titles (four) than those he has with Madrid (three), although on the banks of the Wanda they already want to know little about that Belgian stem that José Antonio Reyes nicknamed El Palomo.