Thibaut Courtois kept a clean sheet at Anfield for the first time in his career last night, and that was more than enough to see Real Madrid progress past Liverpool and into the Champions League semifinals, where they will meet another Premier League team, and one a bit closer to Courtois’ cold, scaly heart.
In two weeks, Chelsea will travel to Spain for the first leg of said semifinal, in what will be a “special” game and not just because a spot in the final will be on the line.
“It’s a special game against my former club. Since [Thomas] Tuchel came in, they’ve played 3-5-2, 3-4-3 and they’re doing well, not conceding many goals. It’s going to be a tough match but I hope we can come through it.”
-Thibaut Courtois; source: SBS
The second leg will take place a week later back at Stamford Bridge, a place that Courtois called home for four years, before burning his bridges and forcing a move to Real Madrid. Such bygones often become bygones ... eventually. We’re probably not there just yet in this case.
“It will be very nice to see a lot of familiar faces and I wish there was public at Stamford Bridge because there was a lot of happy moments I had there, even though maybe my departure wasn’t in the best way, or it was put that way, that it wasn’t the best way, but I only have good memories. Two Premier Leagues, a lot of other trophies, I’m really happy to play them but only one can be in the final and I hope it’s Real Madrid.”
-Thibaut Courtois; source: beIN Sports via Football.London
Incidentally, before winning all those trophies with Chelsea, Courtois was instrumental in knocking Chelsea out of the Champions League at this exact stage, with another Madrid team, back in 2013-14. His saves in the second leg inspired Atlético’s surprise 3-1 win at the Bridge; mind you, Thibaut was on loan at Atlético from Chelsea at the time!
Certainly a sordid history with the Blues for the 28-year-old. Hopefully he’s on the losing end of this next chapter.
(P.S.: Apparently fellow former Blue, Eden Hazard might also feature, having recently returned to full training following his latest ankle injury, contrary to initial expectations.)