Real Madrid: Thibaut Courtois stands tall in chase for top spot in La Liga

Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Athletic Club made sure Thibaut Courtois earned every cent of his paycheck in the witching hours of Madrid’s late-night fixture at the Alfredo Di Stefano.

Thibaut Courtois has made the other side of Madrid his home for the past few seasons, and not without controversy. When he first arrived from Chelsea, Atletico fans went and battered his plaque, calling him every sort of expletive known to man. Real fans were skeptical of the Belgian, a fair faction outraged by the move from Florentino Perez, after all, Keylor Navas was still present.

But, it was evident that Courtois’ arrival meant the weeding out of the Navas. The Costa Rican was demoted in rank, his playing time limited to the Copa del Rey and other cup competitions. Eventually, Papa Perez worked out a deal with Paris Saint-Germain.

With Navas joining the Parisians the top spot was Courtois’ alone, in theory, this seemed wonderful but even when there’s little competition in the locker room you can count on Real fans to make life hell.

A couple of blunders here and a few mishaps there and Madridistas were calling for the dismissal of Courtois, his head on a stake and everything in between.

Let’s fast forward to Matchday 13 of the current Liga campaign for the man between the sticks because while hearts still yearn for the beloved Navas the affinity for the towering Belgian continues to grow.

In the closing stanza of the match against Bilbao, Courtois got all his measurements right in order to preserve the lead and prevent Bilbao from tying the match. His incredible save (skip to 5:24 for the entire sequence) sprung Madrid into a counter-attack which would eventually lead to a brace from Karim Benzema with a sweet finish.

Without question Thibaut has earned the spot for Real Madrid, he’s been stellar this campaign and kept his side in a number of matches. There’s still work to be done in order to build this team, but at least for now, Perez and Zidane don’t need to worry about bolstering their goalie position.

Strong performances from Courtois will need to continue if Madrid stands a chance at defending their league title. This season is going to be a wild ride and could play out to be one of the more competitive campaigns in recent history.

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Real Sociedad, Atletico Madrid, and Real Madrid are all tied for the top spot at 26 points but the Rojiblancos have the advantage of having played two games fewer. Barcelona is having a disastrous season of their own but has managed to climb to the fifth spot with 20 points.