Real Madrid: 3 reasons why Thibaut Courtois has a Ballon d’Or case

Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois
Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images) /

It is extremely rare for a goalkeeper to win the Ballon d’Or, much less be in the running. In fact, Lev Yashin is the only keeper to have won the award, and he is now the namesake of the annual award given to the best goalkeeper. Recently, only Gianluigi Buffon and Manuel Neuer – two of the GOATs – have been in the top three for the Ballon d’Or. So Real Madrid star Thibaut Courtois doesn’t seem to stand much of a chance of actually winning the award in 2022.

But he should absolutely be in the running, regardless of his position. It is true that goalkeepers cannot influence the match in as many ways as, say, Karim Benzema with his scoring, assisting, pressing, and other creative contributions. That said, you know Courtois impacts each game he plays in significantly when you watch him.

Here are three reasons why the newest Real Madrid star in goal deserves Ballon d’Or consideration after four more months of excellence in the 2021/22 season.

Thibaut Courtois has iconic moments

Distinct moments where a goalkeeper steps up for his team stand out the most in the minds of voters, just as iconic goals or bits of skill from attacking players can enhance their Ballon d’Or candidacy. And beyond just talking about keepers, I am not sure there is a single player whose had more incredible big-game highlights than Thibaut Courtois so far in 2022.

Look no further than the entire Champions League Round of 16 against PSG. There is no Remontada, nor heroic Karim Benzema hat trick, without Courtois’ stellar performance in the first leg. He was the reason they only lost 1-0, saving a penalty and making several other top-class saves.

Courtois had a streak of three consecutive penalty saves, with none being more impressive than his stop against Athletic Bilbao in the finals of the Spanish Supercup that is one of the best penalty stops in recent memory. If you thought that was amazing, then watch his save of an Iago Aspas free kick this past weekend at Balaidos. 

Even when Real Madrid struggled badly, such as in a 4-0 loss to Barcelona, Courtois distinguished himself with big stops. Think about that. Even when his team was humiliated on the big stage, Courtois was a standout. Iconic.