It Wasn t So Long Ago That There Were Serious Doubts About Whether Thibaut Courtois Was The Best Goalkeeper At
It wasn't so long ago that there were serious doubts about whether Thibaut Courtois was the best goalkeeper at [/sport/teampages/real-madrid.html Real Madrid].
On Saturday [/sport/zinedine-zidane/index.html Zinedine Zidane] was calling him: 'the best keeper in the world'.
The former [/sport/teampages/chelsea.html Chelsea] keeper who lost his place briefly to Alphonse Areola earlier in the season is now on course to break club records and receiving praise from former keepers whose numbers he is surpassing.
Madrid have only conceded 12 goals in the first half of the season. That's their best record since the 1987-88 season when Paco Buyo was in goal.
Thibaut Courtois is showing signs of returning to world class form having suffered criticism
It's been far from easy for http://pla4u.ru/index.php?page=user&action=pub_profile&id=1976 the Belgian keeper after mistakes earlier on in the season
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'The second season is the one when you really have to cement your place,' says Buyo.
And putting Courtois in the same league as Jan Oblak and Marc-Andre ter Stegen he added: 'If he continues at this level then he definitely one of the best three keepers in the world.'
Of those 12 goals conceded by Madrid, Courtois has only let-in nine and he has kept 11 clean sheets in his total of 21 games played in all competitions.
He could become the first Real Madrid goalkeeper to win LaLiga's Zamora prize for the keeper who has conceded the fewest goals.
A Madrid keeper has not won the prize since Casillas 12 years ago.
In part the change in his fortunes is not directly related to Courtois.
Zinedine Zidane has tightened his team up by switching to a 4-4-2 with Ferland Mendy now at left back, defending more effectively than Marcelo and always protected by a midfielder in front of him.
Courtois has been a key figure in recent weeks as Real have tightened up at the back
Courtois commands his penalty area and collects the ball during last month's Clasico
Real Madrid are harder to break down. They have gone away to Getafe, Valencia, Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao in the past month and only conceded one goal.
But Courtois must still take enormous credit because the big difference between now and earlier in the season is that when teams do get past the Madrid defence they can't beat him.
He has saved 27 of the last 30 shots on target faced.
That compares positively with his record earlier in the season and has turned the Bernabeu whistles into applause.
He was jeered by his own supporters in October in a game against Club Brugge. They blamed him for two first-half goals and he was taken off at half-time amid reports of stomach problems and having been sick in the dressing room.
'The Wall' was how Diario AS described Courtois and his performances in recent weeks
Courtois celebrates with Karim Benzema after Real scored in their draw at Valencia last month
He missed training for two days and was then taken out of the following Saturday's game against Granada replaced by Zidane's compatriot Areola.
It seemed then that he might even lose his place for good.
Critics online took plenty of joy in Courtois' apparent demise.
The club did its best to stick up for him. What appeared to be a rushed PR patch-up interview appeared in Marca in which he admitted: 'If you want to be Real Madrid goalkeeper you have to accept the pressure.'
The quote was part of a three-page special in which Marca also reported: 'He has absolutely no problem with anxiety', it went on to say that he had lost three kilos in a matter of hours because of the stomach problem and reminded readers Courtois is on the verge of breaking a record of not conceding a goal for Belgium.
Courtois spoke about the pressures of being Real Madrid keeper in an interview with Marca
He was shown a red card against PSG in the Champions League before VAR overturned it
<div class="art-ins mol-factbox floatRHS sport" data-version="2" id="mol-97be3c10-3082-11ea-9167-a3eebc1578d6" website Courtois has finally arrived at Real Madrid