Real Madrid

Real Madrid: Courtois betters Casillas, in line for all-time record

The Belgian has come in for criticism this season but he has managed something Iker Casillas never did and is on the cusp of club history.

Real Madrid: Courtois betters Casillas, in line for all-time record

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has found himself in the eye of the storm this season - particularly after conceding twice in the first half against Club Brugge in the Champions League, with the Belgian being substituted at half time – but the 27-year-old has nonetheless matched a record that had stood at the Bernabéu for 32 years before his arrival and is three games away from a place in the club’s history. 

Courtois has reached the halfway stage of the season and conceded only nine times, a feat that eluded his predecessors Keylor Navas, Diego López and Iker Casillas: not since Paco Buyo was between the sticks in the 1987-88 campaign has a Madrid keeper let in fewer than 12 goals in the first 18 games of a season, although there is a caveat in Courtois’ case as he missed three Liga fixtures against Osasuna, Granada and Alavés during that period. To beat the record outright, he will have to concede fewer than once in the first three Liga games of 2020, against Getafe, Valencia and Sevilla. 

Courtois in Liga-winning form

Before Buyo, only Mariano García Remón and José Araquistáin managed the same number of goals or fewer conceded, the former twice (1971-72 (11) and 1972-73 (12)) and the latter in 1961-62 (11). In Araquistáin’s days the league was a 30-game affair and in García Remón’s 34 games made up a season. In all but one of the campaigns when this mark has been achieved (1972-73), Real Madrid have gone on to win the title.

In total, Courtois has kept eight clean sheets in his 15 Liga appearances so far this season and came within a whisker of beating Navas’ best unbeaten run for Madrid of 534 minutes between the end 2014-15 and the beginning of 2015-16.

The Belgian may struggle to beat the all-time record for the fewest goals conceded in a season, which stands at 15 in 1931-32, when there were only 10 teams in the top flight. He can have a crack at Buyo's record of seven consecutive league clean sheets set in 1997-98 after the winter break though with two already in the bag after the Clásico and the stalemate against Athletic.