Real Madrid: The insult against Thibaut Courtois looks even more ridiculous now

Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois (Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois (Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Several Real Madrid players can feel disrespected this week. Karim Benzema did not get a podium finish for the Ballon d’Or, while Toni Kroos was not even nominated nor ranked by La Liga rights-holder ESPN as a top 10 player at his position. But perhaps nobody can feel more insulted than Thibaut Courtois, who is the world’s best goalkeeper right now when combining current form, his form over the past few seasons, and his overall reputation at the highest level of football.

Despite everything he has done in goal for Real Madrid, the most popular club in the world, he remains criminally underrated.

The Yashin Trophy is quite literally the version of the Ballon d’Or given to goalkeepers. It is already hard enough for a keeper to be a finalist for the main award. Courtois was, unlike Kroos, on the shortlist for this award. However, his final ranking will make Madridistas either cringe or throw their laptops out the window.

According to the esteemed voters who do not know of Kroos’ existence and seem to have a vendetta against Robert Lewandowski, Courtois is only the eighth-best goalkeeper in the world. That’s right, these voters think there are seven keepers in the world better than the Real Madrid starting goalkeeper.

Thibaut Courtois had the best save percentage in Europe last season

Among them are Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez and Leicester City’s Kasper Schmeichel. Half the list makes sense, and the other half seems to be entirely based on reputation. Yet a keeper who played amazing this year AND has a great reputation gets the shaft.

Let’s look at the numbers to pick apart the latest award to snub Courtois.

Last season, Courtois was fourth in Europe’s top five leagues in goals allowed per 90 minutes (0.74 per game). You know, on a team in which all four of the starting defenders had to miss significant periods of time with injury. Jan Oblak was the only player ranked higher for the Yashin Trophy with fewer goals allowed per 90.

Courtois led ALL goalkeepers with an 81.1 save percentage. On the list above him, only Ederson and Oblak had more total clean sheets. They were both keepers for the team that won their leagues, by the way.

In 2021-2022, Courtois’ numbers in La Liga are not as impressive due to Real’s serious defensive and structural issues, in addition to a new playing style. But Courtois has still stood out in the Champions League.

Courtois was the MOTM in his last contest

This season, Chelsea’s Champions League winner Edouard Mendy is the only keeper with more clean sheets in the competition than Courtois. He and Manuel Neuer are the only higher-ranked keepers with fewer goals per 90 allowed. Gianluigi Donnarumma, the winner, is the only keeper with a higher save percentage among those above Courtois (86.4 percent).

Because of the way Real play, they are vulnerable on the break and can give up a lot of clear-cut chances. This forces Courtois to always be focused and at his 100 percent. He is always up to the task and makes so many game-saving stops to keep Real Madrid in contention.

Look no further than his first match after this insulting ranking of eighth. Real Madrid barely beat Athletic Club 1-0, somehow keeping a clean sheet despite being out-shot 18-17. Athletic Bilbao were the main issue due to their horrible finishing, but Courtois made two massive stops to ensure Los Blancos held onto the three points.

Again, this is a normal occurrence for him. He was just as good over the weekend in another close win over a tough La Liga side, 2-1 over Sevilla.

Courtois’ recent displays only serve to show how faulty this ranking was. Whether it is being ranked eighth by France Football voters or fourth by ESPN, Courtois is used to being overlooked and underrated despite being a beloved, respected goalkeeper at Real Madrid who gets effusive praise from teammates and opponents, such as Wednesday’s opposite number Unai Simon.

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But Courtois won’t mind. He will continue to excel on a weekly basis. His focus is on winning matches, and those who watch him appreciate his ability. Everyone else will either need to catch up quickly or feel embarrassed in the future when Courtois’ greatness becomes more evident.