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UEFA Champions League: Why Thibaut Courtois has found life difficult at Real Madrid?

04:29 SAST 2019/11/06
Thibaut Courtois Real Madrid 2019-20
After a shaky start at Real Madrid, Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is finally regaining his form...

Life has not been easy for Belgian custodian Thibaut Courtois since he joined Spanish giants Real Madrid in the summer of 2018 from Chelsea FC.

The former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper had practically forced his way out of Chelsea to join the Los Blancos. Such was his desperation to join the 13-time UEFA Champions League winners that he even went AWOL from Chelsea training.

The move finally materialised in August 2018 as he finally returned to Spain, ending a seven-year-long association with the Premier League giants.

Having won the Best Goalkeeper award at the 2018 World Cup, Courtois would have expected a seamless start to life in Madrid.

Unfortunately, his journey started on a shaky note. Real Madrid endured a five-match winless streak early in the season which included four defeats. One of those four losses were against arch-rivals Atletico Madrid where Courtois conceded five goals.

Madrid finished the league in the third position, 19 points behind champions Barcelona and were ousted from the Champions League in the Round of 16, their worst result in the last five years. Also, the season saw Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari sacked as managers and Zinedine Zidane was brought back again to salvage a terrible season.

Courtois had replaced Costa Rican international Keylor Navas as the first choice custodian at the club which did not help matters. Navas had become a fan favourite at Santiago Bernabeu, thanks to some memorable performances.

The Costa Rican had played a very crucial role in Real Madrid’s three back-to-back Champions League triumphs and their league win in the 2016/17 season. When the Belgian number one joined the club several fans remained sceptical about Navas being replaced as the number one.

Courtois' second season at Real Madrid too did not start on a bright note. In their very first Champions League match this season, Madrid went down 3-0 to Paris Saint-Germain. Courtois had conceded three goals in the first half itself and was even substituted at half time, though Zidane later revealed that he was suffering from an injury. 

As the season is progressing, the Belgian is finally getting his ground at the club and his performance is improving substantially. The Belgian has managed to keep five clean sheets out of 12 matches he has played and has conceded 10 goals so far.

Courtois is a proven goalkeeper. But managing the pressure at a demanding club like Real Madrid was always going to be tough. He has taken some time to getting used to those expectations and finally seems to be turning his fortunes around.

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