Courtois attributes criticism to being one of world's best goalkeepers

By Sports Desk November 14, 2019

Real Madrid's Thibaut Courtois claimed his status as one of the world's best goalkeepers brought unwarranted criticism in the early part of the new campaign.

Courtois bore a large share of the blame for Madrid's disappointing results at the start of the season, at one stage conceding nine goals in the space of 14 shots on target.

His performances prompted debate over the club's decision to part with Keylor Navas – who moved to Paris Saint-Germain – but the Belgium international has since rediscovered some of his best form.

The former Chelsea man has kept eight successive clean sheets for club and country, restoring his reputation as one of the game's finest keepers.

"I don't read the press, I only pay attention to what the coach or my team-mates say to me," Courtois, who moved to Madrid in 2018, said from Belgium's national team camp ahead of Euro 2020 qualifying.

"If they haven't been a goalkeeper themselves, how can they know how it all works?

"I don't doubt my own ability. I am one of the best goalkeepers in the world and sometimes that's why they criticise me. I'm calm about it because I made some good saves against Celta [Vigo], Sevilla and Atletico [Madrid], and in other games.

"I'm playing at a good level, it's turning out to be a good start to the season and I have to continue this way."

Zinedine Zidane last month substituted Courtois at half-time of the Champions League draw with Club Brugge, leading Madrid to issue a denial of reports which claimed the 27-year-old was dealing with an anxiety problem.

Courtois skipped the following LaLiga match against Granada before returning in a 1-0 loss to Real Mallorca.

"Zidane told me that I'd continue as first-choice, and asked me to keep focused," Courtois said. "He's always had faith in me."

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    Thibaut Courtois made the decision himself to go up for the late corner that saw Real Madrid snatch a last-gasp draw with Valencia, according to head coach Zinedine Zidane.

    Madrid were staring down the barrel of a second LaLiga defeat of the season courtesy of Carlos Soler's 78th-minute striker at Mestalla.

    However, Belgium goalkeeper Courtois saw a late header saved by Jaume Domenech and Karim Benzema lashed home to ensure Madrid returned to the capital with a point.

    "He decided to go up and this shows that we wanted more, that we never give up," Zidane told a news conference.

    "The equaliser is something that we put a lot of effort into. This is Real Madrid, a team that never gives up. They believed they could do it and they did.

    "With everything we did, I think we deserved to score a goal that compensated with the effort of the team.

    "Football is like this and you can't complain. You have to accept what football gives you. A point is little reward. 

    "In the end, we got a big result, but it's a shame because we had a very good first half. They were better going forward in the second half and it was even."

    Madrid were without Casemiro, who was rested against Valencia - likely due to the defensive midfielder being one yellow card away from suspension ahead of a midweek Clasico against Barcelona.

    Zidane explained: "He wasn't meant to play and those that did did very well. Casemiro had played lots of games and I'm very happy that we did everything without him.

    "We drew, but I think we deserved a bit more. He'd played 21 matches and he had to rest, but I was only thinking about the Valencia game."

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    Karim Benzema said he wants to lead Real Madrid to LaLiga glory this season after rescuing Los Blancos at the death against Valencia.

    Madrid salvaged a dramatic 1-1 draw at Valencia on Sunday thanks to Benzema's last-gasp equaliser.

    After Luka Jovic had a goal disallowed for offside, Benzema slammed home the leveller at Mestalla, where Madrid stayed level on points with rivals Barcelona atop the table.

    "I want to win this league title and, if I can help my team-mates with play and with words, I will do it," said Benzema, who is only one goal behind LaLiga's leading scorer Lionel Messi this season. "I'm the third captain and I have to help.

    "I think it's a good point for us. It could be important for the rest of the league campaign as we look to do well.

    "What has changed compared to other seasons is the number of goals. I always try to help the team on the pitch and I have a lot of confidence in myself. The help of my team-mates is also important to me because they give me the ball and set up chances for me to score more goals."

    Benzema found the back of the net after goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois almost scored a stunning equaliser.

    Courtois went up for a corner, with Madrid desperate to salvage a point, and his header was dramatically saved by Valencia counterpart Jaume Domenech before Benzema pounced.

    "I took advantage of my height to meet the corner," Courtois said. "I'm two metres tall and opponents get nervous if I go up [for corners].

    "Toni [Kroos] sends corners to the near post, I saw the ball coming at my height and I connected well. Then the ball fell to Benzema and he scored."

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