Thibaut Courtois believes Real Madrid still have the quality to win the Champions League.

Los Blancos have won the competition 13 times but an underwhelming start to the LaLiga season has hardly served to inspire confidence they can claim a 14th title in 2020-21.

Madrid are third in LaLiga, a point behind early leaders Real Sociedad having slumped to a 1-0 home loss to newly promoted Cadiz last time out.

Zinedine Zidane's side failed to reach the quarter-finals last season, losing in a two-legged last-16 tie to Manchester City with a five-month interval between the games due to the suspension of football amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Drawn in Group B with Inter, Borussia Monchengladbach and Shakhtar Donetsk, history is firmly on the side of Madrid progressing to the knockout stages.

Madrid have made it through all 28 of their Champions League group stages and Courtois has every confidence in their ability to go all the way once more.

"I'm sure we can win this Champions League," Courtois said ahead of Wednesday's meeting with Shakhtar. 

"Real Madrid are always favourites in this competition. I'm pretty sure, I'm confident we have enough quality in the team to win this title.

"I mean we're not the number one favourites, there are many teams in the hat but we're definitely a candidate for the title.

"Juve, Bayern, Barca, there are a lot of good clubs, it's the most attractive competition in the world and we're going to do all we can to win the title."

Madrid will be heavy favourites to beat Shakhtar having won each of their meetings with the Ukrainian side in the 2015-16 group stage.

However, Shakhtar are unbeaten in their last three Champions League away games under coach Luis Castro.

Courtois has been in sensational form for Madrid. Of the previous 43 shots on target he has faced in LaLiga, Courtois has saved 38 and his stats for his season show he has kept out 16 of the 19 efforts on target.

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois believes the team's shock LaLiga defeat to Cadiz is a good wake-up call heading into their Champions League opener and El Clasico showdown against Barcelona.

Defending champions and LaLiga leaders Madrid suffered a surprise 1-0 loss to newly promoted Cadiz on Saturday.

Madrid succumbed to Anthony Lozano's 16th-minute effort, after Luka Jovic had a goal ruled out and Karim Benzema hit the crossbar.

It was Madrid's first loss of the 2020-21 season and first to Cadiz since 1991 as they prepare for Wednesday's Champions League clash with Shakhtar Donetsk and Saturday's Clasico at Camp Nou.

"A defeat is always a good thing because it gives you a wake-up call to get back down to work, realise the things we're doing badly and to improve," Courtois said post-match.

"We shouldn't attach too much importance to it. It's a defeat, in particular you've got to win your home games, but the games now come thick and fast and we'll have to put in a good performance against Shakhtar, win the match and head to the Camp Nou in confident mood."

"We'll have to analyse the match and take a look at things," Courtois added. "Our first-half performance was very poor, I was called into action three or four times, we weren't winning our individual battles and they were better than us in virtually every department.

"The gaffer made changes at the break and we were better in the second half, but we failed to score because they're a very well-organised side who defend very well. It's really tough when you go behind to teams like that.
 
"We'll have to talk about it tomorrow [Sunday] between ourselves. Besides yesterday's session, all 20 of us haven't trained together and with the international matches it's difficult to get everyone together to train, but that's no excuse."

Madrid midfielder Casemiro added: "We worked hard and fought, but they played better than us in the first-half. In the second-half we pressured higher up and we had more control of the game, but Cadiz is a quality side and we gifted them the game in the first-half.

"We have to look at the mistakes, but the attitude in the first-half was not good enough and we've lost three points against a very organised side who knew exactly what they had to do on the pitch. We have to forget about it because we now have a Champions League week and it's important for us to start well as it's a very long and hard week."

Madrid remain top of LaLiga on goal difference ahead of Getafe – who stunned Barca – Cadiz and Granada.

Thibaut Courtois backed Eden Hazard to eventually "explode" for Real Madrid after his luckless injury run.

Hazard is yet to make an appearance for Madrid this season, having suffered a muscle injury just as he neared a return from an ankle issue.

The playmaker struggled to have much of an impact for the LaLiga giants in his first season following his arrival for a reported €100million (£86m) from Chelsea last year.

But Belgium and Madrid team-mate Courtois believes it is only a matter of time before Hazard delivers at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"Hazard? I have no doubt, I am sure we will see the best Eden Hazard," the goalkeeper told Cadena SER on Wednesday.

"He is the first with the desire to show it. I see him very well and hopefully soon he can prove it.

"Just before his injury, he played several games very well and there he had such bad luck and getting out of that was not easy.

"But now this month I saw him train very well. I am sure that in no time he will explode and will to give many joys to the team."

Courtois arrived at Madrid from Chelsea in 2018 and also struggled initially, but he has turned his form around.

The 28-year-old paid tribute to coach Zinedine Zidane for continuing to back him.

"Zidane has given me a lot of confidence. I have always felt that he counted on me and it is important," Courtois said.

"In those difficult moments at the beginning of last year, if you don't feel that the coach is with you, it becomes difficult."

Courtois' save percentage in LaLiga in his first season with Madrid in 2018-19 was 65.4, as per Opta.

That figure improved to 79.2 last season, as he faced 302 shots in both of those campaigns.

In four games so far in 2020-21, Courtois' save percentage is at 86.7, showcasing his improvement at Madrid.

Madrid, who are top of LaLiga with 10 points from four games, host Cadiz on Saturday.

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has left the Belgium camp with a reported muscle injury.

Courtois was deemed unfit ahead of the friendly against Ivory Coast on Thursday and will miss Nations League games against England and Iceland on Sunday and Wednesday respectively.

According to the Spanish media, the 28-year-old has an issue with his psoas muscle but is still expected to feature for Madrid against Cadiz next weekend.

Zinedine Zidane will hope that is the case after back-up keeper Andriy Lunin tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday.

Courtois also withdrew due to an injury problem when he was called up by Roberto Martinez during the previous round of international fixtures.

Zinedine Zidane says "anything can happen" with Luka Jovic ahead of the transfer deadline after he struggled in Real Madrid's win over Real Valladolid.

Jovic has been consistently linked with a loan departure in the current window, having netted just twice for Madrid in all competitions since signing last year.

Manchester United have been mentioned as potential suitors this week, yet the Serbia striker was in Zidane's XI for a second consecutive match.

Jovic had three shots in total but could not find the net, missing the target with his first two before the break when he looked set to score from the start for the first time in his Madrid career.

With the deadline now just days away, Zidane appeared open to either keeping or loaning the forward.

"I can't confirm anything until October 5," the coach said of Jovic. "He is a player in the squad. I decide and that's it.

"I'm not going to say anything about what's going to happen. Anything cran happen. He's here and he played today."

Zidane introduced Vinicius Junior in place of Jovic and the Brazil winger netted the winner in a 1-0 success.

But Madrid and their coach were also grateful to goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for a string of good stops.

"He saved us last week and today too," Zidane said. "That's what Thibaut is for."

Courtois added to Movistar+: "We knew it was a difficult game against a team that drew with us last year.

"We had chances in the first half and they did not create danger. In the second, I had to make good saves but then we finished the game.

"What counts are the three points. We have to keep improving."

Thibaut Courtois is confident Real Madrid are not short of goals despite struggling to a goalless draw at Real Sociedad on Sunday.

LaLiga's reigning champions began the new campaign with a frustrating stalemate in which Courtois had to make a brilliant one-on-one stop from Alexander Isak to preserve a point.

That was the clearest opening of the match, although Karim Benzema miscued when he looked set to strike moments before Isak ran through at the other end.

Benzema was supported by Martin Odegaard in an advanced midfield role, but Madrid - still missing Eden Hazard and having moved on Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez - could not forge a breakthrough despite mustering 16 shots in total.

Courtois told Movistar: "Of course we've got goals. You see it in training, you see it in the last pre-season friendly we had against Getafe [a 6-0 win].

"But sometimes the ball just doesn't want to go in. I don't have any doubt there are plenty of goals in this team."

The goalkeeper was encouraged by his team-mates' work to subdue Sociedad, who had just 32 per cent of the possession and were restricted to six attempts.

"If we don't concede too many goals and we can order ourselves and be difficult to score against, we have at the other end of the pitch Karim Benzema, who always plays at a very high level and didn't have any luck tonight," Courtois said.

"It's always important for us to keep a clean sheet. That's the way it went after lockdown. It ended up that many of our games were without conceding."

Despite his failure to inspire victory, it was a big night for Odegaard, making his full league debut for Madrid against the side he played for on loan last season.

The 21-year-old had one blocked shot and contributed two key passes.

"It was a very special game for me. I was playing against friends, good people. Very special," Odegaard said. "I felt good, but obviously the victory was missing."

Stand-in Sociedad captain Mikel Oyarzabal said of his former team-mate: "Martin knows he's much loved here, but today we didn't want things to go too well for him.

"I'm sure he'll soon show his quality for Real Madrid."

Thibaut Courtois has been released from international duty and will return to Real Madrid, the Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA) has confirmed.

No reason for Courtois' departure from their training camp was given in the statement confirming the news published on Belgium's official Twitter account.

It was reported in the Belgian media this week the 28-year-old goalkeeper had tested positive for coronavirus, but Roberto Martinez insisted it was "wrong information" and he had been cleared to play.

Martinez said on Thursday: "Thibaut Courtois is available to work. The professor and the medical committee has given us the negative in terms of the COVID virus and that [the rumours] really upsets me.

"I didn't expect that sort of trying to chase the news and if you've got some sort of rumours, it's very easy to speak with [media manager] Stefan van Loock and try to see if it's right and wrong.

"This is an issue of confidentiality first and foremost in medical terms, and secondly it's wrong information."

Belgium are scheduled to face Denmark in the Nations League on Saturday, before a home game against Iceland on Tuesday.

The 2019-20 LaLiga season is over. Having started way back last August, Real Madrid were finally crowned champions 11 months later.

A campaign interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic led to schedule changes and empty stadiums, yet football offered a welcome positive for a country hit hard by COVID-19.

Madrid excelled upon the resumption, overtaking Barcelona on their way to securing a 34th title in their illustrious history, albeit a first since 2017.

Unsurprisingly in the Opta LaLiga team for 19-20, the newly crowned champions are well represented. It should also not come as a shock to see a certain number 10 from their rivals make the line-up, too.

However, who else statistically stacked up during the campaign? Take a look at the final XI.

1. THIBAUT COURTOIS (REAL MADRID)

The last line of defence for Zinedine Zidane's title winners, Courtois stopped 79.2 per cent of the shots he faced (76/96), the highest percentage among goalkeepers with at least 10 games played. The Belgian finished with 18 clean sheets, one more than Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak.

2. JESUS NAVAS (SEVILLA)

Now in his second spell with Sevilla after returning from Manchester City, Navas was converted into a more defensive role. Still, the Spain international remained a key attacking outlet for his team - he tried (232) and completed (55) the most crosses into the penalty area in LaLiga. 

3. PERVIS ESTUPINAN (OSASUNA)

On loan from Watford, Ecuador international Estupinan was a key member of an Osasuna squad that not only survived but thrived on their return to the top flight, finishing in 10th place. He was the only defender to attempt over 100 dribbles, while also recovered the ball a league-high 275 times.

4. SERGIO RAMOS (REAL MADRID)

Madrid's captain led from the front, despite playing at the back. Ramos contributed 11 goals - the most by a defender in a single season in the 21st century, surpassing Mario Pernia's tally of 10 with Getafe in 2005-06. The 34-year-old was on target in the final game against Leganes, his 650th appearance for Los Blancos.

5. DIEGO CARLOS (SEVILLA)

Centre-back Carlos excelled for Julen Lopetegui's Sevilla, helping them secure Champions League football by finishing fourth. His total of 174 clearances topped the list, while he was the only one to have made over 100 clearances with his head. It is hardly surprising, then, that he has been linked with a big-money move elsewhere.

6. CASEMIRO (REAL MADRID)

A defensive-minded midfielder, Casemiro was crucial in laying the foundations for Madrid's attacking talent to shine. The Brazilian recovered more balls in LaLiga than any other player and made 60 successful tackles. There was also the occasional goal too, including a brace that proved the difference in a 2-1 win over Sevilla in January.

7. LUCAS OCAMPOS (SEVILLA)

A third representative from Sevilla, Ocampos proved to be another transfer masterstroke from sporting director Monchi. Having arrived from Marseille for a reported fee of €15million, the winger tried 180 dribbles, completing 67. Only Lionel Messi (283) had more attempts, while no Sevilla player has reached such a number since 2003-04.

8. TONI KROOS (REAL MADRID)

A mainstay at Madrid now since joining from Bayern Munich in 2014, Kroos is a league winner for a second time in Spain. The German midfielder is ridiculously reliable in possession, completing 93.5 per cent of his passes (2,184 out of 2,336 attempted). That is the highest percentage of any player who featured in at least 10 games.

9. KARIM BENZEMA (REAL MADRID)

Now centre stage in Madrid's attack with Cristiano Ronaldo in Turin, Benzema matched his 2018-19 total with 21 LaLiga goals. The Frenchman had the useful knack of making a crucial impact for his team in key moments - his scoring return was worth 16 points for Zidane's squad as they finished on top of the table.

10. LIONEL MESSI (BARCELONA)

Of course Messi makes the XI. Barcelona failed to defend their title but their talisman was outstanding once again, becoming the only player to reach 20 goals (25) and also 20 assists (21) in the same season in the 21st century in LaLiga. His scoring exploits were enough to secure a seventh Pichichi award, as he finished ahead of Benzema.

11. SANTI CAZORLA (VILLARREAL)

Cazorla takes the final spot but will obviously not be in action in Spain's top-flight next season - he is heading to Qatar to continue his career with Al Sadd. Still, he signed off in style with Villarreal, providing the most assists (nine) for a midfielder while ranking third in terms of chances created (71). So long, Santi. Thanks for the memories.

Real Madrid are champions of Spain again, having sealed LaLiga glory by defeating Villarreal on Thursday.

GAME INFO

Madrid trailed Barcelona by two points when LaLiga was suspended in March amid the coronavirus pandemic, but a season-best 10-game winning run catapulted them to the title.

With the help of Opta, we take a look at the numbers behind Los Blancos' latest triumph.

 

THE BIG PICTURE

By claiming their 34th LaLiga title – the equivalent of a 38 per cent success rate in the competition's 89-year history – Madrid have won the league eight more times than any other team. Barcelona are the nearest contenders on 26, while Atletico Madrid, who sit third in the all-time list, have taken home the trophy 24 times fewer than their more illustrious neighbours. Madrid topping the table this term means that, although 63 different teams have featured in LaLiga, only nine have won the title.

COACHING HISTORY ON THE HORIZON

Zinedine Zidane has now led Madrid to 11 pieces of silverware across his two spells with the club – with three more he will equal Miguez Munoz as the most successful coach in their history. The Frenchman has joined Fabio Capello (1996-97 and 2006-07) and Luis Molowny (1977-78, 1978-79 and 1985-86) as the only Madrid bosses to win LaLiga titles in different stints at the helm.

CLASICO AND DERBI DOMINANCE

Madrid avoided defeat and kept a clean sheet in both their LaLiga games against Barca this season – the first time they have done so since the 1974-75 campaign under Milan Mijanic. They also went unbeaten against Atletico and claimed a pair of shutouts, making it the first LaLiga season in which they did not concede a goal in El Clasico or El Derbi.

STRENGTH AT THE BACK

A strong defence has underpinned Madrid's success and they are on course to set a club record for the fewest goals conceded in a 38-game LaLiga season – their previous best was 26 in 1987-88. They also need one more clean sheet to record 20 in a single top-flight campaign for the first time in their history. That would not be the only impressive achievement for Thibaut Courtois, who has tied Francisco Buyo (1977-78) for the most clean sheets by a Madrid goalkeeper in a season (18). The Belgian has saved each of the 26 shots on target from outside the area he has faced in LaLiga this term. Since at least 2003-04, no team has finished a season without conceding a goal from outside the box.

GOALS FROM EVERYWHERE

Madrid have used 26 players this term and 21 of those have scored – the most by a team in a single LaLiga season in the 21st century. Captain and centre-back Sergio Ramos has found the back of the net 10 times – six from the penalty spot – and if he scores again will set a record for the best tally by a defender in a campaign since the turn of the millennium. Karim Benzema has also upped his game since Zidane's return has topped 20 goals in back-to-back seasons for the first time.

Zinedine Zidane praised the "phenomenal" Thibaut Courtois after Real Madrid took another step towards the LaLiga title with a win over Deportivo Alaves.

Madrid kept a clean sheet for the fifth straight game, recording a 2-0 win on Friday to move four points clear of rivals Barcelona with three games remaining.

Zidane lauded Courtois, who made four saves in Madrid's win as Karim Benzema netted a penalty before Marco Asensio's second-half goal.

"He has a very big influence. He is our goalkeeper, what he is doing every game is phenomenal," Madrid coach Zidane told a news conference, via AS.

"It is a matter for everyone when it comes to defending … today, he [Courtois] has been good for us with two or three stops, and then the strength of the entire team.

"We have to continue like this."

Madrid scored a penalty for the third straight game, while the VAR was needed to award Asensio's goal after it was initially ruled out due to an offside decision against Benzema.

As another clean sheet helped Madrid, Zidane said he was happy with his team, who are away to Granada on Monday.

"I'm not worried because the important thing is to win matches," he said.

"We didn't score four or five goals, but because there is an opponent who defends. We scored two goals, one very beautiful in play.

"I am happy and calm with what we are doing."

Thibaut Courtois backed the decision to rule out Adnan Januzaj's effort in Real Madrid's 2-1 win over Real Sociedad, insisting his line of sight was affected.

Januzaj appeared to have cancelled out Sergio Ramos' penalty in the second half, but his strike was ruled out after Mikel Merino was adjudged to be offside.

Karim Benzema doubled Madrid's lead moments later after a VAR check for a possible handball, and Zinedine Zidane's men held on despite Merino's late strike on Sunday.

Courtois, whose Madrid moved top of the LaLiga table, insisted his line of sight was impacted for Januzaj's strike.

"When he shot there were three people in my line, Merino, another from Real and one of us who was covering the shot," the Madrid goalkeeper said, via the club's website.

"I didn't see anything and in the end if you don't see the ball and it goes by so fast it won't give you time to react. It is an offside position.

"It may be right or not, but it prevents seeing it. That is what the VAR is for and I think the decisions have been clear."

With eight LaLiga games remaining, Madrid moved above rivals Barcelona thanks to their superior head-to-head record.

Courtois was happy to collect three points, saying: "The key was to win. We know that it is always difficult to play here.

"It is a great team that fights to enter Europe."

Madrid are in action again with a home clash against Real Mallorca on Wednesday.

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said Los Blancos will need Eden Hazard for their LaLiga title battle.

Hazard has been limited to just 15 appearances for Madrid since arriving from Chelsea in a reported €100million deal due to injury and fitness problems.

The 29-year-old attacker broke his ankle prior to the LaLiga campaign being suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, but he has used the near-three-month hiatus as a chance to fully recover ahead of the league's return.

Madrid – who were two points behind leaders Barcelona with 11 matches remaining – will resume their season against Eibar on June 14 and Courtois provided an update on team-mate Hazard.

"Hazard is just fine," Belgium star Courtois told Movistar. "The rhythm he has is surprising, but we have to go bit by bit.

"We can't expect him to be on top form without playing. I think he's in shape and we'll need him to fight for the title."

Madrid had only won one of their last four LaLiga games prior to the league's postponement due to the COVID-19 crisis in March.

Zinedine Zidane's Madrid defeated bitter rivals Barca 2-0 in March but lost to Real Betis and Levante, while they drew at home to Celta Vigo.

"We can't wait for the league to begin again and start the battle to win it," Courtois said as Madrid prepare to play behind closed doors.

"It'll be different [without fans]," added Courtois. "It's great when there is an atmosphere - even when you are playing away from home and it's against you. It gives you adrenaline and it's something which motivates me to pull off more saves. I'll be just as motivated without the fans there."

Not only will Madrid take to the field without fans, the Spanish giants will play away from the Santiago Bernabeu due to renovation work on the iconic stadium.

Madrid are set to play their remaining LaLiga games at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano – the club's Valdebebas training ground.

"I don't think it will work against us [playing away from the Bernabeu]," Courtois said. "It's an honour to play at a stadium named after a legend - the best player in Real Madrid' history.

"For the history of the club, it would be very nice to win the league there. The training sessions we have had there have been going well and I can't see us having any problems playing there."

Thibaut Courtois admits he and Eden Hazard discussed the prospect of joining Real Madrid while still at Chelsea. 

Belgium international Courtois made the move to Madrid in 2018 and was joined at the Santiago Bernabeu by compatriot Hazard 12 months later.

Both players publicly flirted with the Spanish giants before making the switch and Courtois says he openly talked about playing for Madrid with Hazard.

"In the Chelsea dressing room, we spoke about the possibility of playing here," he told El Mundo.

"'The White House, the White House' we said. It was nice to speculate about it.

"Now, we are very eager to win trophies here."

Hazard has been limited to just 15 appearances for Madrid since arriving in a reported €100million deal due to injury and fitness problems.

The 29-year-old broke his ankle prior to the LaLiga campaign being suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, but he has used the near-three-month hiatus as a chance to fully recover in time for the planned restart in mid-June.

"Hazard is back and with a lot of energy," Courtois added.

"The stoppage has enabled him to get fit again. He can help us win the title. He is a key player for us."

Real Madrid trail leaders Barcelona by two points with 11 games to play.

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is eyeing the LaLiga title when the season gets back underway.

LaLiga was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Barcelona holding a two-point lead over Madrid when the campaign was stopped.

With a potential resumption in mid-June, Courtois said he was eager to win LaLiga.

"Everyone is looking forward to restarting LaLiga and keeping fighting to win it," he told Real Madrid TV on Tuesday.

Courtois said he was delighted to return to training, welcoming being able to face shots from team-mates once more.

"We couldn't wait to be back at training after two months, being together as a team and despite it being a bit different, it is always nice to come back to Valdebebas to have training," he said.

"Training at home is different, but I think everyone did well, everyone did what the coach has said and everyone keeps fit, everyone is pretty strong."

He added: "Goalkeepers were lucky because we were allowed to do training with the keepers coach last week.

"This week, allowing small groups, team-mates can shoot at us, at least, and you feel it is a real session."

Thibaut Courtois clarified his comments regarding Barcelona, saying he never said Real Madrid should be named LaLiga champions.

The goalkeeper said last week Barca should not be awarded the title if the season was unable to be finished due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But LaLiga is aiming to finish its season and Quique Setien's men hold a two-point lead over Madrid with 11 games to play.

Courtois discussed his comments again on Monday and said he did not call for Madrid to be crowned champions.

"At no point did I say that Real Madrid had to be declared champions," he told Television Espanola.

"If the league ends, we're in a better position even if we lost to [Real] Betis.

"If we play the 11 remaining matches then I am confident that my team can win the league."

Courtois returned to training on Monday with LaLiga aiming to get back underway in mid-June.

The Belgium international was happy to be back, albeit in unusual circumstances due to COVID-19.

"It was good to go back to training a little," Courtois said. "But it was weird, different, but feeling the grass and training is better than nothing."

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