Courtois to make first start this season as Madrid close in on title

By Sports Desk May 03, 2024

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will make his first start of the season against Cadiz on Saturday after making a full recovery from two knee injuries, Carlo Ancelotti has revealed.

Ancelotti, however, will remain cautious with Courtois, who has not played since suffering torn ligaments 13 months ago, with Andriy Lunin set to return for Wednesday's Champions League semi-final second leg against Bayern Munich.

"The decisive game we have in mind, a final, is Wednesday's match against Bayern, where Lunin will play. After that, we'll see what happens," Ancelotti said on Friday.

"Courtois is fine, he will play tomorrow after a long, long time. It's good news that he's coming back, just like [Eder] Militao. 

"Courtois can contribute, he's feeling good, he's very excited. We are delighted to have him back."

Lunin has established himself as Ancelotti's preferred deputy in Courtois' absence, seeing off competition from Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Lunin was Madrid's hero as they beat Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals, making two saves in their 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory after an inspired performance in a 1-1 second-leg draw.

Courtois, however, is widely considered to be one of the world's best goalkeepers and the Belgian is likely to regain his starting spot soon, with a LaLiga and Champions League double in Madrid's sights.

He was named man-of-the-match in the 2022 Champions League final after making nine saves to deny Liverpool as Madrid clinched a record-extending 14th European title with a 1-0 win in Paris.

Brazil centre-back Militao returned in late March after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in August, making his first start in last week's win at Real Sociedad in LaLiga.

"We were too passive against Bayern. We have to be more active. So Militao will play tomorrow to get into a rhythm," Ancelotti said.

"We are only thinking about the 'final' on Wednesday. We don't think about what might happen in a month's time. Hopefully, soon we can start looking further ahead, it will mean we'll make the final in London."

With five games left, Ancelotti's side top the LaLiga standings on 84 points, 11 ahead of Barca and 13 clear of third-placed Girona. They can clinch a record-extending 36th Spanish title if they beat Cadiz and Barcelona fail to win at Girona later on Saturday.

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    Just 15 seconds had been played when Manuel Neuer was worked for the first time, smothering Roland Sallai's attempt following some hesitant Germany defending.

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