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‘Best in the world’ – Real Madrid icon weighs in on goalkeeping debate for UCL final

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Former Real Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez was one of the club’s most storied goalkeepers in the recent past, enjoying a brief but successful stint at the Bernabeu.

Now retired, Lopez, in a recent interview (h/t Diario AS), has offered his thoughts on the current debate surrounding Thibaut Courtois and Andriy Lunin ahead of the Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund.

“There is a lot of talk about it and it is logical, but we must give normality to the situation,” said Lopez when asked about the goalkeeping debate.

Courtois or Lunin?

Lopez was unequivocal in his praise for Courtois. “For me, Courtois is the best in the world,” he said. “You just have to look at what he has shown over the last few years. He is the best and there is no doubt about that.”

Lopez’s praise of Courtois hints that he would like the Belgian to start for Real Madrid when they take on Borussia Dortmund in the UCL final on June 1.

The Spaniard even claimed that Courtois will eventually reclaim his former self after spending almost the entirety of the season on the sidelines.

“When he was injured he was in impressive form and was decisive for his team. It is a luxury to be able to enjoy a goalkeeper like that. He will go back to being the same as before,” he said.

Diego Lopez backs Courtois over Lunin (Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP via Getty Images)

However, Diego Lopez also recognised the impact made by Andriy Lunin and just how well the Ukrainian has been able to fill in the shoes of Courtois. “Lunin has had a great season,” he admitted.

Diego Lopez trusts Ancelotti to make the right decision

However, he emphasized the trust he has in Carlo Ancelotti’s decision-making process. “Ancelotti has the most information about both of them and he will make the most appropriate decision thinking about the good of the team,” he said.

Extending his praise on Ancelotti’s experience and decision-making skills, Lopez added, “Whoever doesn’t play will be more hurt, but he will understand that it is a studied and thoughtful decision, not a capricious one.

“Ancelotti is number one in that. He is a great person, very close to the players, whom he cares for, understands and knows how to connect with. He sure manages it perfectly.”

It must be noted that Diego Lopez played under the leadership of Ancelotti during the 2013/14 campaign when he notably featured in 36 league matches by moving ahead of legacy star Iker Casillas in the pecking order.

A decade later, Lopez now recalls a similar theme playing out for the Real Madrid hierarchy as they make an important decision between Courtois and Lunin.

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Real Madrid News

Spain midfielder credits Real Madrid assistant manager for career success

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Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Spain’s European Championship campaign so far has been one filled with revelations. From young Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams on the wings to the ever-so-solid midfield, La Roja have impressed across the park and have taken the tournament by storm.

One such player who has played a critical role for the team despite not being in many pundits’ squad for the tournament is Fabian Ruiz. The PSG midfielder has been sensational for Luis de la Fuente’s men so far, scoring once and providing one assist in two games.

Despite not having any direct links with Real Madrid, the Spanish midfielder interestingly credits Davide Ancelotti for his success and AS brings the story.

A chapter in Naples

Fabian Ruiz may have never played for Los Blancos in his career so far, but he crossed paths with the Ancelottis in Naples a few years ago.

Ruiz signed for the Italian club from Real Betis in 2018 for a fee of €30 million. At the time, he was not known widely and was just seen as another routine Spanish midfielder aspiring to make it big.

As revealed by the player in a recent interview, however, it was Carlo Ancelotti’s son and Real Madrid assistant manager Davide Ancelotti who first saw the spark in him.

“Meeting him was a very important step in my career. From the beginning, he backed me, and it was not easy to pay what Napoli paid for me, a player who had not played much in La Liga with Betis.”

“If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be here. I have a very good relationship and friendship with him,” he added.

Fabian Ruiz credits Davide Ancelotti for his success. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

A special eye

Ruiz’s comments on Davide Ancelotti only make it clearer as to why Carlo Ancelotti holds his son’s advice in high regard. It is, after all, a testament to the tactician’s keen eye for special talent.

As revealed earlier this year, it was the manager’s son who suggested Joselu’s substitution against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League semifinals when the team was on the brink of elimination.

What happened next was history as the veteran scored twice within minutes to turn the game around and send the Bavarians crashing out.

Davide has been rumoured to be interested in walking his own path soon as a specialist coach, but as it stands, will continue working under his father for at least one more year at Real Madrid.

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