Real Madrid: Courtois leads race for the Zamora Trophy
With just two goals conceded in his last nine games, Courtois is on track to becoming the first Real Madrid recipient of the Zamora trophy since Iker Casillas in 2008.
Real Madrid’s 3-0 win at Getafe will logically lead to the focus falling on the likes of double goal-scorer Raphael Varane and Fede Valverde, who put in an energetic display off the bench. However, neither of these two would have shined had it not been for Thibaut Courtois’ impressive performance in the first half to keep Madrid from conceding.
Before a more convincing second-half display, Madrid walked on a tight rope in the first 45 and depended heavily on their two-mitre-tall goalkeeper, who pulled off three impressive saves to deny the hosts.
First, with the score at 0-0, the Belgian showed some quick reflexes to clear Mauro Arambarri’s well struck volley. After Varane’s opening goal in the 34th minute, he then stopped a snapshot from Faycal Fajr at his near post in the 44th minute, before stretching to parry Leandro Cabrera’s well-placed header from a Fajr free kick deep into first-half stoppage time. Had Cabrera’s effort gone in, it would have weighed heavily on Madrid’s morale in the dressing room at half time.
“That was important; we could have gone in with a draw at the break. But the 1-0 lead allowed us to come out more calmly for the second half,” said Courtois after the game.
Courtouis’ transformation key to Real Madrid’s success
Currently at the top of his game, Courtois is a far different player to the one who was subjected to whistling from sections of the Bernabéu during the first two months of the season.
The Belgian keeper has now enjoyed three consecutive clean sheets, saving 26 of the last 28 shots that have come his way. In the first nine LaLiga games this season, seven of which he played, he conceded seven goals. In the following ten games, only one of which he missed, he has only twice had to pick the ball out of his net.
With nine goals conceded in 16 games (an average of 0.56 per game), he leads the race for the Zamora Trophy ahead of Atlético Madrid’s Jan Oblak, who boasts an average of 0.63 goals conceded per game.
There is a long way to go yet, but the 27-year-old is on track to becoming the first Real Madrid keeper to lift the Zamora Trophy since Iker Casillas in 2007-08 (32 goals in 36 games). Though, of course, Courtois is no stranger to the prize, having twice won it as an Atlético Madrid player in 2013 and 2014.
“The defensive and goalkeeping work has been very good; that helps us to win," said Courtois after his shining display against Getafe. Now he and his team mates shift their focus to the Spanish Super Cup semi-final against Valencia on Wednesday in Saudi Arabia. “We are ready, everyone feels good. We’re going for the first title of the season.”
Meanwhile, Zinedine Zidane, who stuck with the Belgian between the sticks when apparent logic would have deemed otherwise, was full of praise for his number one after the Getafe game: "He's my keeper, for me he's the best, no doubt about it".
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