Courtois anticipates 'special' Chelsea reunion in Champions League semis

By Sports Desk April 14, 2021

Thibault Courtois' clean sheet against Liverpool has the Real Madrid goalkeeper anticipating a Champions League semi-final reunion with Chelsea in search of silverware.

After Madrid held Liverpool to a goalless draw on Wednesday, the LaLiga champions progressed to the semi-finals for the first time since 2018 via a 3-1 aggregate success.

Madrid will now face Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea for a spot in the decider – Los Blancos have qualified for the semis of the European Cup/Champions League for the 30th time, at least 10 more than any other team.

"We came into today off the back of two really difficult games and maybe we just lacked the legs in attack but defensively we ran as if we had twelve men on the pitch," Courtois said.

"It was unbelievable. Everyone has to put that effort in when we're taken to the limit.

"We had to dig in and give it our all and that's what we did. That's crucial for the team's desire and in order to show we're a unit."

Courtois spent four seasons at Chelsea following a loan period with Atletico Madrid before joining Real Madrid in 2018.

He won two Premier League titles and other honours during his time at Stamford Bridge.

Madrid have faced Chelsea more often without winning than any other side in their entire history, failing to win in all three games against the Premier League outfit (D1 L2), while their upcoming semi-final encounter will be their first ever Champions League meeting.

"It's a special game against my former club. Since [Thomas] Tuchel came in, they've played 3-5-2, 3-4-3 and they're doing well, not conceding many goals," Belgium international Courtois said.

"It's going to be a tough match but I hope we can come through it. 

"We're hungry to win another Champions League and we have to try and go into it on a high. We might get some of our injured players back but everyone who played today showed we're a fantastic team."

While Madrid hope to add to their record 13 European titles, Courtois is seeking his first. 

Courtois has reached the Champions League final once before, but that 2014 showdown against Madrid ended in heartbreaking fashion as Atletico conceded an equaliser in stoppage time, then three more in a 4-1 extra-time defeat.

Now he and his team will be hoping to maintain the stingy defence they displayed midweek, even without the injured Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Dani Carvajal. 

The Spanish giants have now progressed from 11 of their 12 two-legged knockout ties in the Champions League under Zinedine Zidane, with the club's only elimination coming against Manchester City in last season's round of 16.

"Me and [Eder] Militao are part of the squad and we're here for a reason. We're well prepared for games like the one tonight," said Madrid defender Nacho.

"We've played three of the most demanding games together and we've produced high-level performances. So I'm pleased for myself, for Militao and especially for the whole team."

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    "We definitely want to keep Erling with us next season. You can see his value, you saw how committed he is last Saturday against Leipzig, with joy.

    "Besides we still have it in our own hands, we just have to win twice more now. We have managed the club solidly for so many years, when we go into the second or third year of the coronavirus, then we have to take out a few loans at some point we will pay them back.

    "But there is absolutely no economic need to sell him, regardless of whether it is a Europa League or Champions League."

    Watzke also casually revealed that interim head coach Edin Terzic had extended his deal with the club to presumably work as an assistant under Marco Rose.

    "Edin Terzic did a great job," he said. "He took over the team in December, it was half dead, and he brought it to life. That is a huge achievement at his first coaching station.

    "He's holding the keys in his hand. He extended a long-term contract a few weeks ago.

    "He's a Dortmund boy, he lives and breathes the club. If Edin wants to do something different, then we have to work with him. But we won't do that now."

    Terzic was delighted with the DFB-Pokal success but remained focused on the bigger picture, with Dortmund determined to confirm a top four league spot with two games to play.

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    "Now we all deserve to enjoy this evening tonight but the season is not over for us yet."

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    "You can imagine that I'm not doing well but it's not about me, it's about the club," he said.

    "It's painful. I know what the headlines are like now… We still have two Bundesliga games that are not that pleasant. I'm not thinking about my move [to Bayern Munich] now.

    "I'm proud of the boys. "We weren't the worse team, we just scored fewer goals. Dortmund makes a lot out of a little."

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