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‘Dreamed of being able to get back’ – Courtois elated after return from long layoff

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Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois marked his return to the first-team fold during the team’s home match against Cadiz at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

His appearance on Saturday marked his first start for the team after being absent for nearly nine months. Speaking after the game, the keeper expressed his delight while talking to Real Madrid TV, saying,

“It was very nice to be back today. I dreamed of being able to get back to playing. The match was good, as I made an important save and then we scored,” he said. 

“I am happy with the win and feeling like a Real Madrid player again is nice, especially With the fans and their love for us,” he added.

Courtois thought of returning many times

It is to be noted that he had previously suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during training on August 10 last year, which required surgery a week later and a lengthy recovery period.

Courtois’s return was further delayed when he experienced a rupture of the internal meniscus in his right knee on March 19. Despite these setbacks, he fully recovered and resumed training with his teammates.

Speaking about his return, the Belgium international said that he thought of returning to action many times during his rehabilitation. 

“[I thought about returning] Many times. I thought the season was lost, then I set the Cadiz match as my return date. 

“I felt good before, but with bad luck, I didn’t know if I could play or not.”

Thibaut Courtois played for Real Madrid after almost nine months. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)

Adding to that, he went on to admit that he will need some time to adapt to competitive football again.

“It will take a little time to adapt again. The plan was to play a friendly match in training at the time, but I tore my meniscus. 

“I only trained, but I haven’t played 11 against 11 for 9 months,” he explained.

Courtois – looking ahead

Against Cadiz, Carlo Ancelotti selected him and the Bernabeu crowd gave him a warm welcome with a standing ovation, and they applauded him again in the 50th minute when he made a crucial save against Chris Ramos in a one-on-one situation.

“We are very close to winning La Liga. A great match awaits us on Wednesday, and we hope to give the fans another joy on Wednesday,” he said.

Speaking about the match on Wednesday, against Bayern Munich, he urged the fans to turn the Bernabeu in white. “A very important match. We need the fans in white again. I hope we can have a magical night again.”

Lastly, the keeper pressed on the fact that the entire Real Madrid roster is a group of friends and everybody is eager to help everybody.

“We are a group of friends in the team. A hug and a positive word always help a lot. Militao and I spent several days alone at the time of our injury. 

“Playing with him again means a lot to me. I would like to thank the technical staff very much. I am better now since when,” he added.

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Features

Real Madrid’s best lineup next season with Kroos retiring, Mbappe and Endrick joining

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Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

It is set up to be a transformative summer for Real Madrid. After the UEFA Champions League final has concluded and the grand showdown finally has a victor, the Merengues are expected to undergo a squad revamp.

Indeed, the Santiago Bernabeu is preparing to welcome several high-profile signings, while also bidding farewell to some beloved Madrid legends.

Considering the potential arrivals of Kylian Mbappe and Endrick, as well as Toni Kroos’ recent retirement, here is how Real Madrid could shape up next season:

Goalkeeper

Having made a long-awaited return from injury, Thibaut Courtois is anticipated to guard Real Madrid’s goal next season once more.

The Belgian goalie has already started featuring in the starting XI and is expected to play against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final, too.

As such, his place for next season is hardly in doubt. However, unlike previous seasons, he will face much fiercer competition from Andriy Lunin, who has enjoyed a stellar campaign.

Defence

Fortifications in the defensive line remain high on Real Madrid’s priority list in the upcoming summer transfer window. However, even with the given options the Royal Whites boast assurance and grit in their back-line.

The likely occupants on the flanks would be Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy, who have both produced great exhibitions throughout the campaign.

Ferland Mendy has the full trust of Carlo Ancelotti. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Carvajal is known to punish defensive lines and on the defensive end, his anticipation of forwards has been equally appreciable.

Meanwhile, Mendy’s resurgence this season has earned him immense faith from the coaching staff, as his defensive aptitude continues to set him apart.

In the centre-back positions, Real Madrid are expected to rely on the dependable figures of Antonio Rudiger and Eder Militao.

Real Madrid consider Rudiger to be indispensable owing to his front-footed style and the important role he has had to play amidst the injury crisis. Similarly, Militao is valued by the team as he proceeds to regain match fitness after recovering from a long-term injury.

Midfield

The void of Toni Kroos in midfield will compel coach Carlo Ancelotti and co. to
reconsider their midfield strategy.

Real Madrid will be unable to count on Kroos next season. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Thankfully for Real Madrid, their succession stage had begun a while ago and they have ample options to trust in the center of the park.

With Aurelien Tchouameni protecting the base of midfield, Real Madrid will possess security and deep progression.

Ahead, occupying the interior midfield positions, Fede Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga are well-suited to provide a combination of energy off the ball and threat in possession.

And to put the cherry on top, Jude Bellingham’s place as the number 10 behind the two strikers would certify his status as a pivotal playmaker and scorer in the team’s setup.

However, he is adept at making third-man runs and connecting the midfield with the offence and could play deeper to not only make up for Kroos’ absence but also facilitate more options up front.

Attack

Real Madrid’s offensive department is where the largest reform is expected to take place.

Kylian Mbappe’s goalscoring instincts need little introduction by now and he is thus anticipated to be fielded as the striker.

Vinicius Jr. is expected to take up the position as a secondary striker drifting from the left, something he has become quite accustomed to this season.

Endrick will have to battle for a starting spot. (Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images)

It is worth noting that Endrick could also play a part by either replacing Vinicius off the bench and playing off Mbappe.

It remains to be seen how many men forward Ancelotti will commit to but the presence of Mbappe and Vinicius seems set in stone, given their huge profiles and status in world football. How the manager uses Rodrygo Goes will be interesting to see as well.

All in all, considering Ancelotti’s proficiency in profiling players, Madrid fans can expect to see these stars play in favourable environments.

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