Solid on his line, Thibaut Courtois made an XXL performance last night against Manchester City. A new demonstration from the Belgian goalkeeper who has had a very successful season.
No more “seum”. Last night, it was a happy and euphoric Thibaut Courtois who presented himself to the media after the miraculous qualification of Real Madrid against Manchester City in the semi-final of the Champions League (3-1). “It’s crazier (than the qualifications against Paris SG and Chelsea) because it lasted until the last moment, until the 90th and 92nd minute…” And yet, without a great Courtois, the Merengues’ hopes could have been dashed much earlier.
After being beaten by Riyad Mahrez (73rd), the Belgian kept his team alive by making a number of decisive saves, as he was called upon to do so on numerous occasions. He saved Bernardo Silva’s attempt in the 20th minute, before relaxing well on Phil Foden’s volley in the 39th minute, or pulling off a cross-shot from Jack Grealish in the 88th minute, or deflecting Foden’s header in the 105th minute. In total, the Red Devil made 8 saves according to La Dernière heure.
Courtois, best goalkeeper in the world?
The Belgian media paid tribute to him for his XXL match. “Real Madrid owes its express remontada to two men: thanks Rodrygo, thanks Courtois! (…) Often, when a miracle happens at the Santiago-Bernabéu Stadium, Thibaut Courtois and Karim Benzema are not far. The former made no less than eight saves. Courtois, who was voted man of the match by UEFA, was praised by the FM editorial staff with a score of 7.
AS wrote of him: “He spent the match performing miracles, even if the goal at his near post marred his performance. He was vital in keeping the ship afloat. Once again, at the level of the best goalkeeper in the world”. Essential in the conquest of the La Liga title and precious in the C1, the number one goalkeeper of Madrid realizes a great season (47 starts in 50 matches in all competitions) with 17 cleen sheets on the counter.
The Belgian hallucinates
However, he conceded many goals, including 11 in the Champions League knockout matches (2 against Paris, 4 against Chelsea and 5 against City). Not always helped by his defense, even if Ferland Mendy saved the 2-0 yesterday, the former Atletico did miracles against City. An evening that he is not close to forget. “I think that even at 1-0, we were not very good until the 89th minute. They had two more chances, one that Ferland (Mendy) saved on the line, the other that I saved with my foot. And suddenly, the equalizer comes and we see that they are afraid”.
He continues: “I can’t explain it, it’s incredible. When it’s 1-1 and the referee adds six minutes, you know that anything is possible. In overtime, we knew we were better than them. Everyone gave everything, we knew we could win this game. It’s incredible. To be Spanish champion with Madrid on Saturday and now to experience this… That’s why we are soccer players. We dream of clubs like this to live moments like this. Courtois extended the party outside the Santiago Bernabeu, where his car was surrounded by fans singing to his and Real Madrid’s glory. To finish in style, he only has to finish the job in Paris on May 28 against the Reds. Once again, Madrid will need his golden fists.