Real Madrid were not the better team for much of the match, but they managed to defeat one of the best teams in La Liga, Sevilla, 2-1 despite their struggles to start the game. These are the kinds of tough results a title-winning team needs, and it makes all the difference in the world having top players whose individual quality can help your team see things through.
Vinicius Junior is the obvious hero in the aftermath of his scintillating, game-winning strike reminiscent of another Cristiano Ronaldo goal from years passed. His goal makes it nine on the season for the Brazilian superstar, and he has been a huge reason for Real’s league and group-leading performances in La Liga and the Champions League, respectively.
But there is another player who has been a consistently elite performer and weekly hero for Real Madrid. He is someone we are more privy to taking for granted because of the position he plays, the relative lack of mainstream-circulated highlights, and the fact that he has been at this level for years.
Yes, I am talking about Thibaut Courtois. Just as Real Madrid would not have beaten Sevilla without Vinicius’ goal, Los Blancos would not have triumphed over the Andalusian club without a pair of top saves from Courtois, including one very late in the match with the score at 2-1.
Thibaut Courtois knows how to step up
Courtois makes game-changing saves in the early minutes and late minutes alike. Madridistas who have watched all of the team’s games so far this season know that this is a regular occurrence, even as the media does not replay these videos or talk up Courtois.
For the last five years, Courtois has been squarely in the discussion as the best goalkeeper in the world. After a rough first season in Madrid, Courtois turned things around after a couple of months into 2019-2020, winning the Zamora Trophy and spearheading Real Madrid’s title march after hitting a low point in his career against Club Brugge.
Courtois is a true Madridista in so many ways, from the way he quietly excels at his job to the way he always demands the best from himself and his teammates.
Against Sevilla, he stepped up on a big stage and made sure Real Madrid did not come away second place. Or even tied. Courtois, like every great player who has come through this club, needs to win. He is desperate to win. Therefore, he will do everything it takes to make sure his team comes out on top, and that includes covering up everyone else’s blushes with top, top saves.
Courtois comes next in a lineage of accomplished goalkeepers. Before him, Keylor Navas won three straight Champions League and had some of the greatest reflexes we have ever seen in La Liga. Prior to that, Iker Casillas became the definition of a legend through years of consistent excellence and leadership between the sticks.
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There is no doubt that Courtois can etch himself in the books as a Madrid legend if he keeps this up. And true Madridistas know that he should be recognized each and every week he performs at this level. He may be a goalkeeper, but he is just as much of a superstar and just as vital to this team’s success as any of the beloved, world-class midfielders and forwards in the Spanish capital.