Real Madrid's goalkeeping stocks have taken another ill-timed hit with Keylor Navas confirmed to have sustained an adductor injury.

Thibaut Courtois could be set for a spell on the sidelines after Real Madrid confirmed the goalkeeper has suffered a muscle injury.

The Belgium international has established himself as first choice at the Santiago Bernabeu since arriving from Chelsea in August, usurping former number one Keylor Navas after the Costa Rican started the first two LaLiga games.

Courtois has started all 16 of Madrid's LaLiga matches since and shared Champions League duty with Navas as Los Blancos qualified for the knockout stages.

For the first time since moving back to Spain he has suffered an injury, though, with no timescale put on his recovery from a hip problem.

A statement from Madrid read: "Following tests carried out on our player Thibaut Courtois today by the Real Madrid medical services, he has been diagnosed with a grade 1 injury in the left iliac muscle.

"His recovery will be monitored."

Madrid face Leganes in the first leg of their Copa Del Rey last-16 tie on Wednesday, before travelling to Real Betis in the league on Sunday.

Thibaut Courtois said Real Madrid had "chances to kill off the game" as the star goalkeeper lamented his side's 2-2 draw away to Villarreal in LaLiga.

Madrid – fourth in the league – were forced to share the points on Thursday after conceding an 82nd-minute equaliser to Villarreal's Santi Cazorla.

Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane had cancelled out Cazorla's fourth-minute opener in the first half before the former Arsenal playmaker headed past Courtois with eight minutes remaining.

The result ended Madrid's three-game winning streak as they slipped seven points adrift of bitter rivals and leaders Barcelona.

"We had some chances to kill off the game," Courtois said. "We had issues at the back and that cost us a goal.

"We had the lion's share of possession, we controlled the game in many moments and we into Villarreal's box more than they did ours.

"Now we have to think about Sunday and really try to win it. We have trained well over the last few days and we were ready for the match.

"We started (off) badly with an error and a goal, but then we got back into it. We missed great chances in the one-on-one and that was the game finished."

Madrid full-back Dani Carvajal added: "We had some real chances to finish the game and make it 3-1, but in the end, we drew and dropped two points.

"We needed those three points to close the gaps on the leader. Now we need to keep working hard and rack up some points. This is not an easy place to come play. We're disappointed because we were ahead for practically the whole match and not winning really stings."
 
"We knew that they would have to push forward and leave the defence open. Before finishing with a draw, we had two massive chances to kill it off, we did not finish and they nicked a goal at the end."

Kepa Arrizabalaga has played down the burden of the £71million fee the Blues paid for him to replace Thibaut Courtois.

The 24-year-old was one of Maurizio Sarri's first signings at Stamford Bridge when he arrived from Athletic Bilbao to fill the gap left by Real Madrid-bound Courtois.

The Blues are fourth in the Premier League table with half of this season's matches played and Kepa has started every game, keeping eight clean sheets.

Courtois helped Chelsea to two league titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup during his time in west London, and Sarri himself said Kepa is not yet at the Belgian's level.

But when asked about the task of taking his place, Kepa told Sky Sports: "I wouldn't call it pressure, I would just say it is how the transfer market goes.

"He went and I came in and I'm not one to focus on the comings and goings.

"I'm focused on myself and there is a great opportunity for me to come here. I wanted to take advantage of this and enjoy my football and look forward and not back.

"I'm happy here both on a personal and a team level and I'm happy here in London. Looking towards the future excites me with the possibilities we have to improve and I'm excited about what the future might bring."

Kepa's transfer fee made him the most expensive goalkeeper in world football, surpassing Alisson at Liverpool, and Chelsea's record signing ahead of Alvaro Morata.

"Obviously the price was very high - £71m is a lot of money," he added.

"I'm aware of this but given the transfer market situation and how things are going, it is normal so I don't need to focus on the value of the transfer.

"I do need to focus on playing my football and what's happening on the pitch rather than off it. I want to be myself and not think about it.

"I'm here now playing for Chelsea. I chose to leave my home at Athletic Bilbao and it was an important step in my career."

Thibaut Courtois believes Cristiano Ronaldo is "irreplaceable", but he challenged his Real Madrid team-mates to score the goals the star forward used to.

Ronaldo, 33, left Madrid for Juventus in July and, while the LaLiga giants struggled to cope without him initially, they have improved under Santiago Solari.

Solari secured his first trophy at the helm with a 4-1 win over Al Ain in the Club World Cup final on Saturday.

Courtois said Madrid needed to step up to replace the goals Ronaldo scored, with Karim Benzema (11) and Gareth Bale (10) leading the way so far.

"Cristiano Ronaldo is irreplaceable, you cannot forget what he did," he told reporters.

"But he is not here anymore, so it's time for other players, like Bale did in the semi-finals [of the Club World Cup], to score the goals he [Ronaldo] used to score.

"If we are able to do so, it'll be fine."

Madrid are fourth in LaLiga, eight points behind leaders and rivals Barcelona, albeit with a game in hand.

They are next in action with a trip to Villarreal on January 3.

Diego Simeone thinks Bayern Munich's reported interest in Lucas Hernandez is "normal" but hopes the defender stays at Atletico Madrid.

Marca claimed this week that the Bundesliga champions are prepared to activate his release clause of €80million and bring him to the Allianz Arena when the January transfer window opens.

However, Atletico president Enrique Cerezo denied knowing about any such offer and insisted Lucas wants to stay at the Wanda Metropolitano.

And Simeone hopes he and the fans can show the France international that he should continue his career with Atletico.

"What I can comment on is that I talked with him, with the club, [and] everyone knows what I think and what I would like," he told a news conference ahead of Saturday's LaLiga game with Espanyol.

"Until today, he's been with us and there are no possibilities of talking about if he stays or goes. If he's available to play, he'll play, but I don't like talking about hypotheticals.

"As far as I'm concerned, we have a very important game between Espanyol, who are struggling because they've been undeservedly losing games on occasion and will demand a lot from us.

"As for Lucas, I told the club and him what I think of him and hopefully the fans will also show their affection.

"It's difficult to suppose something that hasn't happened. I don't imagine things that haven't happened, and if they do, I always imagine positive things. I'm optimistic.

"Lucas knows the affection we have, the footballer he is. It's normal for Bayern to apparently want to pay his release clause. Then there's the decision of Lucas and the club."

Simeone also responded to comments made by Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who accused his former Atletico boss of attacking the European champions to boost his popularity among fans.

The remarks came after Luka Modric criticised Simeone for what he considered "a constant need to undermine Real Madrid" after the Argentine said either Antoine Griezmann or Raphael Varane should have beaten Modric to the Ballon d'Or.

"I'm very respectful with him," Simeone said of Courtois. "I don't understand what he wanted to say."

Thibaut Courtois said Diego Simeone criticises Real Madrid to boost his popularity among Atletico Madrid supporters as he hit out at his former boss.

Simeone has come in for criticism after Ballon d'Or winner Luka Modric accused the Atletico head coach of having "a constant need to undermine Real Madrid".

Atletico star Antoine Griezmann or Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane should have won the Ballon d'Or ahead of Modric, according to Simeone.

Earlier this month, Simeone also suggested Courtois only won the award for 'The Best' goalkeeper because he plays for Madrid and the Belgium international fired back following Saturday's 1-0 LaLiga victory over Rayo Vallecano.

"Simeone criticises Madrid so as to be popular with his fans," Courtois said. "He always does it, attacks Madrid for being the best in the world."

Courtois added: "Everyone's opinions have to be respected, everyone can say their personal opinion.

"But I was there for three years and when you always fight against Real Madrid, which is the best team in the world, you're going to say things to generate populism.

"In my case, he said I had won that trophy [Best goalkeeper] because I played for Real Madrid, but in the World Cup I was Chelsea, and in the The Best Award, the votes were closed in July.

"[Atletico goalkeeper Jan] Oblak is also a great goalkeeper and could have had more points, but there are a lot of people who vote."

 

Lionel Messi has missed out on a place in the Ballon d'Or's top three for the first time since 2006.

Messi has won the award five times, dominating the France Football prize with Cristiano Ronaldo for the past decade.

But it was confirmed on Monday that the Barcelona superstar had finished fifth in the voting for the 2018 award.

Luka Modric is the favourite to win this year's Ballon d'Or, the 33-year-old expected to pip Ronaldo to the prize.

The Real Madrid midfielder helped his side win a third consecutive Champions League title and starred in the World Cup.

Croatia reached the final of the tournament for the first time with Modric inspirational, winning the Golden Ball for his efforts.

 

Ballon d'Or final placings: 

29= Isco (Real Madrid), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)

28= Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid)

25= Alisson (Roma/Liverpool), Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)

22= Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain), Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Marcelo (Real Madrid)

19= Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)

17= Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)

16= Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

15= Paul Pogba (Manchester United)

14= Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea/Real Madrid)

13= Luis Suarez (Barcelona)

12= Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain) 

11= N'Golo Kante (Chelsea)

10= Harry Kane (Tottenham)

9= Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

8= Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

7= Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)

6= Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

5= Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Neymar, Paul Pogba and Luis Suarez have all missed out on the top 10 of the Ballon d'Or.

Luka Modric is the favourite to be crowned winner of the prestigious individual prize on Monday, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann his main competition.

Ronaldo and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi have won the award five times each in a decade of dominance for the duo.

Neymar has long-been touted as a future winner of the Ballon d'Or but the Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil star ranked 12th in the final reckoning.

Pogba also missed out on the top 10 despite playing a leading role in France's triumph at the World Cup, with his international team-mate and Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante finishing four places higher.

Thibaut Courtois was 14th in the voting, the Belgium and Real Madrid goalkeeper the top player for his position.

 

Ballon d'Or positions 30-11:

29= Isco (Real Madrid), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)

28= Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid)

25= Alisson (Roma/Liverpool), Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)

22= Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain), Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Marcelo (Real Madrid)

19= Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)

17= Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)

16= Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

15= Paul Pogba (Manchester United)

14= Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea/Real Madrid)

13= Luis Suarez (Barcelona)

12= Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain) 

11= N'Golo Kante (Chelsea)

Thibaut Courtois blamed overconfidence for the bewildering 5-2 capitulation to Switzerland that cost Belgium a place in the Nations League Finals.

Roberto Martinez's men were cruising towards the point required to top Group 2 in League A after Thorgan Hazard's brace put them in control in Lucerne.

Switzerland, left needing a two-goal victory to advance, conjured a remarkable response to lead 3-2 at half-time, before Nico Elvedi and hat-trick hero Haris Seferovic completed the unthinkable after the interval.

Courtois was powerless to stop the onslaught and diagnosed a premature sense of security as contributing to the Red Devils' downfall.

"We started well, took the early lead and doubled it also. Then we started to lose duels and gave away a stupid penalty," Courtois said of the Nacer Chadli foul that handed Switzerland a lifeline.

"Suddenly the Swiss got hope for more. I think after our 2-0 lead the feeling went into our team that it could not go wrong.

"But this is a high-level competitive match and hopefully not reaching the final four will teach us a lesson for the future."

Paris Saint-Germain defender Thomas Meunier agreed with his team-mate's assessment, describing Belgium's performance as the worst of his five-year international career.

"This is more than an enormous disappointment," the wing-back said. "After the 2-0 lead we had everything in our own hands. It was a perfect game for us.

"We could have scored even more. But then they scored three out of three chances, it was really unbelievable.

"It was just not enough from our side. I think we just thought we reached the final four already. Tonight was the worst match with the Red Devils in my career."

Santiago Solari assured Keylor Navas has all his respect and admiration despite replacing him with Thibaut Courtois for Real Madrid's Champions League match at Viktoria Plzen.

Julen Lopetegui has been sacked as Real Madrid head coach after seeing the winners of the last three Champions League finals slip to ninth in LaLiga. 

Real Madrid have sacked head coach Julen Lopetegui just 14 games into a difficult spell at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

Thibaut Courtois has slammed a report claiming he was deeply unhappy to learn of Real Madrid's rumoured interest in appointing Antonio Conte or Jose Mourinho as head coach. 

Real Madrid are reportedly considering sacking head coach Julen Lopetegui just three months after he took charge in sensational circumstances, with Sunday's Clasico clash with Barcelona potentially decisive for his future.

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