Thibaut Courtois’s recent slump in form has raised alarms across the upper echelons of Santiago Bernabeu. The 27-year-old landed in Spain from Chelsea after the 2018 World Cup, having played an instrumental role in propelling Belgium to the semi-finals. He even ended up with an award for best goalkeeper in the prestigious competition but his tenure at Real Madrid has rather been shaky. 

After the departure of Zinedine Zidane in 2018, the Belgian was the preferred goalkeeper over three-time European Champion Keylor Navas. Real’s new coach Julen Lopetegui entrusted Courtois, considering his form from the World Cup, and made him a regular in the starting eleven.

But Real’s defensive form started to falter like never before and Courtois started conceding quite frequently. This included a 5-1 hammering at the hands of eternal rivals Barcelona at the Camp Nou and the fans started dreading the sight of Courtois at the goal post. In his 27 appearances during the 2018/19 La Liga season, the Belgian conceded 36 goals, averaging over a goal per match.

The story hasn’t changed in the ongoing season as well. Courtois has descended further, and Real’s board has started taking notice of his mistakes. Zidane is back at the Bernabeu and Navas has made his way to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in a switch deal that brings Alphonso Areola to Madrid.  But the scenario with the Belgian remains the same.

In the 2019/20 season, Real failed to keep a clean sheet for five consecutive matches across all competitions and the most disappointing encounter was against French champions PSG. Before that, the Belgian international looked even worse after he allowed two goals in the second half against Levante but Real were lucky to hold on to their lead and emerge victorious 3-2.  

Although Courtois might never be forgiven for his grave mistakes against PSG, when he let ex-Madridista Angel De Maria get the better of him on two separate instances. In a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Paris, Courtois faced just five shots on target and conceded three goals.

While his opponent Navas, guarding the post on the other end, didn’t face a single shot on target, he displayed immense alertness on the pitch. However, things got better as the Belgian kept three successive clean sheets against his old club Atletico Madrid, Osasuna and Sevilla. Then it went awry in their match against Club Brugge in the Champions League at home last Tuesday.

Courtois was substituted at half-time due to acute gastroenteritis, but the stakes have never been higher for the Belgian, as his rough patch just seems to be getting worse. Fortunately, Real Madrid are the only unbeaten team in the Spanish top flight while Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have faced losses.

This gives Courtois a little bit of time to bounce back before the wheels finally fall off the wagon and Real’s president Florentino Perez decides to do away with the Belgian for good, leaving no scope for amends.

Feature image courtesy: AFP/ Javier Soriano