Real Madrid: Thibaut Courtois shows up in the biggest games

Thibaut Courtois of Real Madrid (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
Thibaut Courtois of Real Madrid (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois used to be a magnet for criticism, but the area between the goalposts at the Santiago Bernabeu couldn’t be any safer heading into 2020.

On Oct. 1, Thibaut Courtois left Real Madrid’s Champions League fixture against Club Brugge at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first half with a stomach illness. He was not at fault for either of the goals allowed, which were the result of two separate defensive breakdowns, but Courtois was still blamed for the 2-0 scoreline.

Since then, Courtois has been resplendent. After a poor start to his career with Los Blancos, Courtois has more than righted the ship. In fact, he’s reestablished himself as a world-class goalkeeper again, as he was once in the argument as the best keeper in the world in his final season with Chelsea.

Where Courtois has really stood out, though, is in the big games. Real Madrid are heading into 2020 with two scoreless draws against Athletic Bilbao and FC Barcelona, as fans are ruing the lack of finishing and the lack of creativity on the pitch without a healthy Eden Hazard.

However, Madridistas should remember the positives, too, which is why as much time needs to be spent praising Courtois’ performance in between the sticks.

Courtois made big saves against Bilbao and Barcelona to preserve a point and a clean sheet in both matches, but his truly brilliant game came on Matchday 17 in a 1-1 tie with Valencia.

Aside from creating the game-winning goal for Karim Benzema with a brilliant header from a corner, Courtois made four saves at the Mestalla. One of those saves denied a clear one-on-one opportunity for Ferran Torres, and Real would have surely lost that important game without Courtois’ heroics.

The same can be said for Courtois’ performance in the club’s Champions League victory over Galatasaray in late October. Courtois saved all three shots directed his way for the clean sheet in an ugly 1-0 win in Istanbul.

Next. Courtois is doing something Casillas never did. dark

This season, Courtois has clean sheets against Barcelona, Bilbao, Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, and two against Galatasaray in the Champions League. Those were six of Real Madrid’s most important matches this season, and Courtois came up big in all of them.

Courtois will head into 2020 as one of the top goalkeepers in Europe after being consistently doubted. At one point, he had a streak of five straight clean sheets, and the Belgium international looks poised to rack up a similar streak soon. It’s been lovely to watch him rebound and find his confidence in between the posts this season, and Madridistas can feel safe about their goalkeeping situation again with two quality keepers, especially a beaming Courtois.