Despite their heavy defeat on Saturday, Thibaut Courtois expects his former club Chelsea to respond strongly when they meet Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals.
The Blues were shockingly thrashed 4-1 at home by Brentford in the Premier League, while Madrid claimed a 2-1 win away at Celta Vigo in LaLiga.
Courtois made 154 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea before moving to the Santiago Bernabeu in 2018.
Following Madrid’s win over Celta, Courtois told reporters:
“Today, winning is essential. Chelsea lost at home, and they will be solid for Wednesday.
“We lack intensity sometimes, and Chelsea is good at [exploiting] that.”
Though Los Blancos were victorious, they enjoyed some fortune after being awarded three penalties by referee Pablo Gonzalez Fuertes. It was the first time Madrid took three spot-kicks in a single LaLiga game since Opta began recording such data in 2003-04.
Karim Benzema scored two and saw one saved, but it was enough for Madrid to extend their lead at the top to 12 points, and Courtois – who made a spectacular save from an Iago Aspas free-kick in the first half – acknowledged how challenging the game had been.
“We have suffered here. All the games I have played here have been very tough,” he said. “I don’t know if we deserved to win because I made two saves in the first half.
“The three penalties are, there is nothing more to add. The first and the second, yes. Perhaps the third is the one that I see as more difficult for my goal, but if you put your foot in. Today, they call us three in favour since it had been a long time since they called us three.”
Aspas was less than convinced by the referee’s performance, saying after the game:
“He only needed to call the fourth penalty to take it himself. It seemed that a hat-trick from Benzema was what he wanted and what he was looking for.”
The former Liverpool striker did have words of praise for Courtois, though, after the Belgian saved his free-kick as well as efforts from Denis Suarez and Thiago Galhardo, whose header he tipped into the post before it rolled in, only for the goal to be disallowed when an offside Aspas stopped David Alaba from clearing.
“He is the best goalkeeper in the world,” Aspas added. “I already said it in the previous one, and it seems that he listened to me.”
Nolito did find a way past Courtois, but to no avail for Celta, who sit in 11th place.
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