"Win the crowd," the thought kept echoing in Thibaut's head as he tossed and turned on the slab. Stone beds are a special kind of uncomfortable, but it would've been foolish to expect anything nicer in the arena. "We are here for their entertainment," he reminded himself, "not for our own."
He was up well before anybody else. He looked out across the room, amazed at the restfulness of everybody else. "How can they sleep at this hour; don't they know they only have a few hours to live?" Kevin De Bruyne looked even more like a 12-year-old while Eden Hazard slept with a huge grin on his face. But of course.
He almost felt sorry for them. Almost. "I must not show any weakness." History shall be made tonight.
As the trumpets blared, they walked out double-file. The sand was still cool from the night. It would soon turn searing hot under the sun. Some dignitary made a speech but finished well before the crowd could grow bored of him. They wanted blood.
Courtois was ready to give them a show. "BY THE GODS AND PETR ČECH!" He pulled on his rugby cap.
Many hours passed. The bodies lay in a heap off to the side. Kevin De Bruyne was the first one to fall, his mad charge fueled by past events ending swiftly at the pointy end of sharp steel. Hazard was a bit trickier, but a quick diversionary shout of "Oh, look, it's Mourinho!" was enough to gain the advantage. "Where's your grin now, bitch?"
Others fell less notably.
The crowd was exhausted, happy. They've had their annual fill. The sun has set. In the middle of the sand, standing tall, was one man: Thibaut Courtois, Belgian Sportsman of the Year.