Thibaut Courtois has commemorated his man-of-the-match performance in the Champions League final after unveiling a tattoo of a brick wall on his arm.

The Belgium international produced an inspired display between the sticks as Real Madrid edged out Liverpool 1-0 at Stade de France to claim their 14th continental crown.

Courtois' nine saves during the match made up the highest tally in a single Champions League final since at least 2003-04, surpassing Liverpool's Allison (in 2019) and Manchester United's Edwin Van der Sar (in 2011), both with eight.

He also set a new benchmark with the number of saves he made during Madrid's run (59)

The Reds finished the final having attempted 24 shots, the most on record from a team who failed to score in European football's showpiece match.

It stands to reason then that Courtois should want something to remember the final by, and he has settled on a new tattoo, revealed to his 10.5 million Instagram followers.

The design has Courtois' initials and shirt number set against a brick wall next to the Champions League trophy.

Thibaut Courtois is unlikely to win the Ballon d'Or because goalkeepers will always lose out to goalscoring outfielders, says Petr Cech. 

It was suggested Courtois could be in with a chance of winning the award following his man-of-the-match performance in Real Madrid's 1-0 Champions League final victory over Liverpool, although he said it was "impossible".

He made nine saves in the match – the most by a goalkeeper in a final in the competition since at least the 2003-04 season – and prevented 2.5 goals according to Opta's expected goals on target metric. 

Courtois also led the way in goals prevented as Madrid won LaLiga, with his 4.9 putting him top of the charts. 

Cech praised the former Chelsea goalkeeper but suggested the Ballon d'Or is likely out of his reach, with Karim Benzema the favourite to take the accolade. 

"Well, he was a key player obviously for his team, because he made vital and important saves in the [Liverpool] game, and of course, without his saves, they would have lost," Cech told Stats Perform ahead of Sunday's Soccer Aid charity match.

"You always need everybody to perform in the big game, in the Champions League final, and he was the main man and obviously deservedly won the player of the match. 

"He's had an amazing campaign, literally from the start to finish, and in the Champions League, so it was not a surprise. 

"I think that there will always be an issue with goalkeepers being involved in [the Ballon d'Or], because in the past, [Gianluigi] Buffon, even [Iker] Casillas, there were some goalkeepers who probably should have been much closer to winning the award. 

"But we know that for the goalkeeper it is very particular to be compared with the players and to get anywhere near them. 

"Everybody loves to see goals and assists and great skills going forward, and this is what football is about." 

Eden Hazard has backed Real Madrid colleague Karim Benzema to win the Ballon d'Or, while he suggested fellow team-mate Thibaut Courtois should finish in the top five.

Benzema has enjoyed a remarkable season, inspiring Madrid to Champions League success and the Spanish title with four games to spare.

The France international scored 15 times in the Champions League, including a joint-record 10 in the knockout stages to be named as the competition's Player of the Season.

The Madrid talisman ended the season with 44 goals and 15 assists across all competitions. Only Kylian Mbappe (60) can better Benzema's 59 goal involvements among players from Europe's top five leagues.

Meanwhile, Courtois was the star of the show against Liverpool as he made nine saves, a record for a Champions League final since Opta began collecting data in 2003-04.

Courtois has led the way among goalkeepers in the competition this season, making the most saves (59) and boasting the highest save percentage of those to produce five stops or more (80.6).

That led to suggestions the Belgium international may be an unlikely contender for the Ballon d'Or, but Red Devils team-mate Hazard believes Benzema should win the coveted individual award.

"I've known [Courtois] for ten years now and he's been doing this for ten years," Hazard told reporters at a Nations League news conference on Tuesday.

"That was already the case at Chelsea and now at Real. Courtois, [Kevin] De Bruyne, [Sadio] Mane, Vinicius [Junior], they all had a good season. 

"But still I think Benzema deserves to win it. Courtois should be in the top five. But when you see how Benzema played in the quarter and semi-finals, that was really impressive."

Benzema will hope to carry his scintillating club form into the next season with Madrid, and also with France at the World Cup in Qatar.

The 34-year-old will partner with Mbappe at the tournament in November, and the Paris Saint-Germain star was almost Benzema's club team-mate before he snubbed Los Blancos earlier in the month.

Mbappe opted to stay in the French capital and sign a three-year extension with PSG, leaving Hazard to rue the impact he could have had at the Santiago Bernabeu as he aims to recover his own form for the upcoming campaign.

"The seats are already expensive at Real, but with Kylian Mbappe they would be even more expensive," Hazard added.

"Now I have to show the coach that I'm ready, that I can play. But since my surgery I do feel better. My approach will not change. All my success is also due to how I approached it."

Karim Benzema has been named the 2021-22 Champions League Player of the Season after helping Real Madrid to a 14th European crown.

Benzema also won the competition's Goal of the Season honour for a supreme header against Chelsea in the quarter-finals, while team-mate Vinicius Junior has been named Young Player of the Season.

The duo were instrumental in Madrid's defying run to Saturday's final in Paris, where Vinicius' finish was enough to earn a 1-0 victory over Liverpool.

With 15 goals across the season, Benzema topped the scoring charts in Europe, with a joint-record ten of those goals in the knockout stage.

The attacker, a heavy favourite for the Ballon d'Or this season, was at the centre of dramatic comeback wins against Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Vinicius meanwhile delivered four goals and six assists throughout, with the latter tally only bettered by Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes.

Both Madrid players were named to the Champions League Team of the Season, alongside club-mates Thibaut Courtois and Luka Modric.

Courtois made nine saves in the final to keep Liverpool at bay. He finished the Champions League campaign having faced 72 shots on target, conceding 14 goals. According to expected goals data, the Belgium international prevented 4.7 goals.

 

Beaten finalists Liverpool also contributed four players, with Fabinho, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson featuring.

Kylian Mbappe, who scored six goals in eight Champions League matches, was named alongside Benzema and Vinicius in attack – an attacking trio that might have been lining up for Los Blancos next season had the France forward not decided to stay at PSG.

City playmaker De Bruyne also made the XI, as did Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger, who is set to join Madrid on a free transfer.

2021-22 UEFA Champions League Team of the Season: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Andy Robertson (Liverpool); Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Fabinho (Liverpool), Luka Modric (Real Madrid); Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).

Pele has congratulated fellow Brazilians Vinicius Junior and Marcelo for their contributions to Real Madrid's triumphant Champions League campaign, which he hailed as a "beautiful adventure". 

Vinicius converted Federico Valverde's cross in the 59th minute to fire Madrid to a 1-0 final win over Liverpool at the Stade de France, as Los Blancos were crowned European champions for a 14th time - seven more occasions than any other team.

With his decisive strike, Vinicius became the first Brazilian player to score the winning goal in a Champions League final since Juliano Belletti did so for Barcelona against Arsenal in 2006, also in Paris.

The winger's sixth goal in the Champions League this season, combined with his previous four assists, made him the first South American aged 21 or younger to record 10 goal contributions in a single edition of the competition since Lionel Messi's 14 in 2008-09 (nine goals, five assists).

Meanwhile, Marcelo lifted the trophy as club captain before announcing his departure from Madrid, having made more appearances for Los Blancos than any other non-Spanish player during his 15-year stay at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Writing on Instagram after the final, Brazil great Pele hailed his compatriots for their roles in Madrid's success, also praising man-of-the-match Thibaut Courtois and Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti, who is the first coach to win the Champions League/European Cup four times.

"That's why football is the most beautiful sport in the world. I got to see a dear friend, Vinicius, who overcame so many challenges to decide an epic game," Pele wrote.

"I'm delighted to see Marcelo be the first Brazilian to lift a Champions League trophy as captain. 

"I witnessed an impeccable goalkeeper, Courtois, make inexplicable saves, and a strategist coach, Ancelotti, who knew how to interpret the moment and use the best characteristics of his team. 

"Congratulations Real Madrid. What a beautiful adventure!"

Thibaut Courtois believes he has little chance of winning the Ballon d'Or despite his incredible Champions League final performance for Real Madrid, noting the presence of team-mate Karim Benzema makes such an honour even more unlikely.

Courtois was in imperious form as Madrid claimed their 14th European Cup/Champions League triumph in Paris, making nine saves as Carlo Ancelotti's team beat Liverpool 1-0.

Liverpool managed 24 shots throughout the contest, the most a team has recorded without scoring in a Champions League final since Opta records began (in 2003-04).

Courtois' tally of saves, meanwhile, is the highest on record in a single Champions League final, with his 59 across Madrid's dramatic European campaign also a single-season record (both since 2003-04).

However, after being named man-of-the-match, Courtois cast doubt on his chances of winning the biggest individual prize in world football.

The 30-year-old said goalkeepers have little chance of being named the best player in the world, particularly given the form of Benzema, who scored 44 goals and added 15 assists in all competitions as Madrid were crowned champions of both Spain and Europe.

"It is impossible for a goalkeeper to win it, even more so if he plays in a team with Benzema," he told reporters, as quoted by Tuttomercato.

"I can go far, but it is difficult to win this trophy. 

"For me, what matters is the fact that when I returned to the locker room, all my team-mates were screaming my name. This is worth more than personal recognition."

Lev Yashin is the only goalkeeper to win the Ballon d'Or, doing so in 1963, while Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer came third in 2014.

Courtois also topped the Champions League charts for save percentage (80.6, minimum five saves), and goals prevented according to expected goals on target data (4.7) this season, before capping his fine season in perfect fashion in Paris.

While Courtois was keen to emphasise the collective nature of Madrid's success, he believed his saves from Mane in the first half and Salah after the break were crucial.

"It is incredible for me to win the Champions League final like this. For me, it was not important to be a protagonist, it was important to win," he added

"I was ready, I made an important save at 0-0 and one at 1-0. The one on Salah with my hand was beautiful, but also the one with my foot.

"I'm here to help my teammates, to keep the clean sheet and win. I'm happy to have been MVP in the final."

Meanwhile, Courtois also wished Liverpool supporters well after kick-off was twice delayed amid reports of heavy-handed policing in Paris.

Writing on Twitter on Sunday, the former Chelsea man said: "I feel sorry for Liverpool fans and the way they were treated. I hope everyone got home safe!"

Jurgen Klopp congratulated Real Madrid on their Champions League final win but highlighted the number of statistics in Liverpool's favour as they came up just short in Paris.

Indeed, Klopp claimed a historic performance from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could only be possible if "something is going wrong" for victors Madrid.

Courtois made nine saves against Liverpool to preserve a clean sheet, capping one of the great individual Champions League campaigns.

He finished top of the competition's charts for saves (59), save percentage (80.6, minimum five saves) and goals prevented according to expected goals on target data (4.7).

Courtois capped his terrific European run in style at the Stade de France, as his save tallies for both the final and the campaign as a whole were highs for any single Champions League season since Opta records began in 2003-04.

His heroics also contributed to Liverpool setting a new record for the most shots attempted in a final without scoring (24).

Despite this profligacy, with Vinicius Junior putting away one of just four Madrid attempts in a 1-0 success, Klopp put forward Liverpool's case for winning the match and pinpointed Courtois' display as a concern for their opponents.

"After the game, when I saw the stats, it was 50-50 possession," he told a news conference. "We had a lot more shots, a lot more shots on target, but the most decisive stat is absolutely on Madrid's side.

"Just to make sure that nobody thinks I wouldn't congratulate Real Madrid, I do that now, but I [also] congratulated everybody present and involved outside personally.

"They scored a goal, we didn't – that's the easiest explanation in the world of football, and it's hard, harsh to get anyway, [but we] respect that of course.

"When the goalkeeper is man of the match then something is going wrong for the other team, so we had, I think, three really big chances where Courtois made incredible saves. I would have loved to have had a few more of this calibre."

This was Liverpool's 63rd game of a long season, in which they played three finals and took the Premier League title race to the wire, and Klopp acknowledged fatigue could have been a factor while still believing the Reds did enough to go home with the trophy.

"Let me say, [the number of matches] doesn't help, but I don't think it was the reason," he added.

"We all know, the chances we had, when the player shoots a ball, the ball going in or is on the foot actually only an inch, that's all. Nothing to do with being at the peak of your physical things or not.

"We had these situations, the chance in the one-on-one situation from close range from Mo [Salah]; we know how often Mo scored in these situations. It was just an outstanding save from Courtois, we have to respect that as well.

"I think Madrid had one shot on target, is that right? And that was a goal.

"But, look, I understand 100 per cent and I respect 100 per cent the reason for playing football and having these kinds of competitions is to win the game, and whatever you do – as long as it's in the rules – it's allowed and you can do it. It's completely fine."

Florentino Perez claimed he had "already forgotten" Real Madrid's failed pursuit of Kylian Mbappe after watching his side beat Liverpool in the Champions League final.

Mbappe was widely expected to join Madrid when his Paris Saint-Germain contract expired this year.

But the World Cup winner had a change of heart last week and instead committed to a new three-year deal in Paris.

Rather than have Mbappe come to Madrid, Madrid came to him on Saturday, visiting the French capital for another Champions League final and another triumph, winning their 14th European crown and making it eight successive victories when reaching the competition's final.

Vinicius Junior netted the only goal in a 1-0 win, showing the sort of firepower Madrid still possess even without Mbappe.

And president Perez vowed the LaLiga and European champions will continue to chase the world's best players after their transfer disappointment.

"Mbappe is already forgotten," he told Movistar. "We have had a perfect season and we will continue to work to get the best players."

Madrid already have one of the best around in goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who made a record nine Champions League final saves to keep Mohamed Salah and Liverpool at bay.

"Thibaut has had a spectacular season," Perez said of the Belgian. "He is the best goalkeeper in the world, and that's why we brought him to Real Madrid."

 

Vinicius Junior and Thibaut Courtois were the heroes as Real Madrid downed Liverpool 1-0 in the Champions League final in Paris, securing a record-extending 14th European crown for Los Blancos.

Vinicius' second-half winner proved decisive as Liverpool failed to find a way past the outstanding Courtois despite piling on the pressure, as Madrid repeated their 2018 final win over the Reds.

While Jurgen Klopp's team have now missed out on both the Premier League and Champions League trophies after leading an incredible four-front fight for silverware this season, Carlo Ancelotti has led Madrid to a terrific LaLiga and Champions League double, reaching a personal landmark along the way.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the best Opta facts from the fiercely contested final.

After kick-off was twice delayed at the Stade de France, Liverpool made a fast start to the contest but found Courtois in imperious form as they eventually fell to their third Champions League final defeat – only Juventus (five) have lost more, while Jurgen Klopp has lost more finals in the competition than any other manager (three).

It was not for want of trying, however: Liverpool had as many shots on target in the first half (five) as they did in their previous two Champions League final appearances combined (two in 2018 and three in 2019).

The Reds ended the match having racked up 24 shots, the most on record (since 2003-04) from a team who failed to score in a Champions League final. 

Meanwhile, Courtois' nine saves in the match made up the highest tally in a single Champions League final (since 2003-04), surpassing Liverpool's Allison (in 2019) and Manchester United's Edwin Van der Sar (in 2011), both with eight.

Courtois also made 59 saves throughout Madrid's run in the competition this term, setting a new single-season record after Petr Cech made 58 for Chelsea in their triumphant 2011-12 campaign (since 2003-04).

But it was Vinicius who proved the match-winner, escaping Trent Alexander-Arnold's attentions to tap home from Federico Valverde's cross in the 59th minute.

Vinicius' goal made him the first South American to register 10 goal involvements in a single Champions League campaign (four goals, six assists) while aged 21 or under since Lionel Messi recorded 14 for Barcelona in 2008-09 (nine goals, five assists).

Furthermore, at 21 years and 320 days old, the Brazilian became the second-youngest player to net for Los Blancos in a European Cup or Champions League final, after Marco Asensio against Juventus in 2017 (21 years, 133 days), and the first Brazilian to score the winner in the competition's final since Juliano Belletti for Barcelona in 2006, also in Paris (against Arsenal).

Madrid's victory means they have won the European Cup or Champions League twice as many times (14) as the next-most successful club in the competition's history (Milan with seven), and Los Blancos have also won in each of their last eight final appearances, defeating Liverpool in their past two.

Finally, Ancelotti became the most successful coach in the competition's history with his fourth title (also 2002-03 and 2006-07 with Milan and 2013-14 with Madrid), as he moved clear of Madrid predecessor Zinedine Zidane and Liverpool great Bob Paisley (both three).

And so at the end of a gruelling 63-game season, mentality monsters Liverpool met their match against the miracle men of Real Madrid.

For the best part of an hour in Paris, Carlo Ancelotti's side looked off the pace and seemingly in need of some inspiration. Yet Madrid did what Madrid do. 

Just ask Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City exactly how that feels.

Unlike in the previous three rounds, no comeback was required on Saturday thanks to Vinicius Junior's 59th-minute strike and a string of incredible Thibaut Courtois saves.

The pair, who along with Karim Benzema have been key in Los Blancos' run to the final, will now forever be synonymous with their side's 14th continental triumph.

That is double the number of European Cups or Champions Leagues won by the next most successful side, with Milan on seven and Liverpool just behind, still stuck on six.

Back in the city of the first of their triumphs, you can be sure that this will not be the last for the true kings of Europe.

 

Not for the first time this season, Ancelotti's men were slow getting out of the blocks, perhaps not helped by a delay to kick-off of more than 30 minutes.

That was down to crowd congestion, as UEFA put it, with one half of the ground swathed in white 45 minutes before the scheduled start time and the Liverpool end a patchy red.

Those Liverpool fans who didn't make it into the ground on time would have missed a dominant first-half display from their side.

The Reds had more shots on target in the first 22 minutes than they did in the entire of the 2019 final, which ended in victory against Tottenham.

Madrid had not even registered a shot or a touch in the Liverpool box by that point, and the Premier League side's dominance only grew as the warmth in the Paris air turned to a slight chill.

By half-time, Jurgen Klopp's side had aimed as many shots on target as in their previous two finals combined, including the defeat to Madrid four years ago in Kyiv.

Crucially, though, Courtois had kept out each of them, including a fine stop from Sadio Mane, helping his shot onto the post.

That was the seventh time Liverpool had hit the woodwork in the Champions League this season – the most of any side – yet the first signs of the tide turning arrived just before the break.

Benzema, kept quiet for large parts, fired the ball in after a mix-up between Alisson and Ibrahima Konate, only for the officials to deem the France striker to be offside.

It was a hugely contentious call, one that took three minutes for VAR to review, although it will now represent a mere footnote when looking back at this game in years to come.

 

Vinicius – and Courtois – ultimately proved the difference, despite Liverpool throwing all they had at their opponents. The Belgium international made the most Champions League final saves (nine) of any goalkeeper on record (since 2003-04).

And so, for the eighth final running, the side that scored first went on to win, a run stretching back to Madrid's comeback victory against Atletico Madrid in 2014.

Digging deep is nothing new for Madrid, then, and again in Paris – albeit perhaps not quite to the same extent as witnessed in previous rounds – their grit and character was on show.

A side who had trailed for 178 minutes in the semi-final, and 243 minutes in total in this campaign (21 per cent of their minutes played), came through this most difficult of runs.

Let it not be forgotten that the LaLiga winners saw off the champions of France, the champions of England and the erstwhile champions of Europe en route even before facing Liverpool and toppling them, too.

It will be particularly special for Ancelotti, who becomes an outright record four-time winner of the Champions League, but this success was about a team who refused to be beaten and again had the ability to grind out a victory just when required.

Never has a Champions League triumph been so hard-fought and yet so deserved.

Thibaut Courtois revelled in making the difference as his fine goalkeeping performance guided Real Madrid to a Champions League final victory over Liverpool on Saturday.

Madrid had their backs to the wall from the offset at the Stade de France as Liverpool attempted as many shots on target in the first half (five) as they did in their previous two Champions League finals combined (two in 2018 and three in 2019).

That first-half display included two fine Courtois stops against a close-range Mohamed Salah effort and Sadio Mane drive, but the Belgium international saved his best for after the interval.

Courtois expertly denied Salah three times in the second half, the last of which was particularly impressive as he dived to his right to tip away, with Vinicius Junior nudging Madrid ahead at the other end.

The rearguard of Madrid held firm to secure a 1-0 win and record-extending 14th Champions League title as Courtois ended with a record nine saves in the final of the competition, since Opta began recording data in 2003-04.

Courtois has led the way among goalkeepers in the competition this season, making the most saves (59) and boasting the highest save percentage of goalkeepers to make five stops or more (80.56).

The 30-year-old, speaking after the game, reflected on a productive outing on both a personal and team level.

"I said yesterday in my press conference when Madrid plays finals they win it," he told BT Sport.

"And I'm on the good side of history, I saw a lot of tweets coming my way that I will get humbled today and it was the other way round.

"I needed to win a final for my career, for all the hard work, to put respect on my name – I don't think I have enough, especially in England.

"I saw a lot of criticism even after a great season that I was not good enough. I'm really happy and proud at the performance of the team, we stuck to it and when I needed to be there I was there for the team.

"We beat the best clubs in the world, together with us, you see the year City and Liverpool had, unbelievable seasons, they fought till the end in the Premier League.

"Liverpool won two cups, today they were really strong, I think I played a great game and that was the difference – we had one chance and we scored it."

Aside from a dominant personal performance, Courtois believes Madrid have shown they are the best side in Europe.

"So many years, so much work, coming to the club of my life, yesterday I already said that Madrid wins and it is like that," he told Movistar. 

"Many from Liverpool and other people criticising me but we have shown who is the king of Europe.

"I've felt very good this year, I've managed the last few weeks well, and once you make the first stop then you're focused, and I took chances from Mane and Salah.

"Nobody could take away my desire to win a Champions League. For my loved ones who have passed, I was going to win a Champions League."

As for his best save, Courtois added: "Especially Salah's, I looked for it from distance, and I knew where the ball was going. It's crazy, I don't believe it.

"The referee added five minutes without anything happening, but hey, we held on."

Real Madrid duo Marcelo and Thibaut Courtois have hailed Carlo Ancelotti's impact on the side on the eve of their Champions League final clash with Liverpool, with the former saying he is "lucky" to have worked with the Italian.

Ancelotti has made a stunning impact since returning to the club he led to the 2014 Champions League title, winning LaLiga by a 13-point margin and leading Los Blancos to the showpiece event in Paris against all odds.

Madrid have become the first team to reach the competition's final after losing a game in each of the last 16, quarter-finals, and semi-finals, while Ancelotti could win the trophy for a fourth time as head coach.

That would make the Italian the most successful boss in the competition's history outright, and he has won three of his previous four Champions League finals – though his one such defeat came against Liverpool as Milan boss in 2005.

Speaking alongside Ancelotti at Madrid's pre-match press conference in Paris, both players hailed the Italian's abilities to communicate with Los Blancos' star-studded squad, with Marcelo saying he felt fortunate to have worked under the 62-year-old.

"I've known him for eight years, I've been lucky enough to train with him," the Brazilian said of his head coach.

"He understands football very well and knows how to manage the locker room. It's normal that we all want to play. 

"This season we haven't had almost any problems, the coach leaves us alone, tells us the truth. That gives confidence to work."

Madrid goalkeeper Courtois, who is yet to win European football's biggest prize and was a runner-up to Los Blancos when on loan at Atletico Madrid in 2014, echoed the left-back's praise of Ancelotti, crediting him and his staff with fostering an excellent team spirit at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"The good dynamics of the team is due to the coaching staff, we train very well and we know that they make decisions," he said.

"But they manage it very well, everyone has played. That's why we are where we are."

Including Marcelo, Madrid have four different players in their squad to have made 100 or more Champions League appearances (Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Marcelo, and David Alaba). 

They could become the first team to name a starting XI in the competition's final featuring four or more players with a century of Champions League appearances, having fielded three in their 2018 final win over Jurgen Klopp's team (Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Sergio Ramos).

Meanwhile, Marcelo, who is out of contract at the end of this season, says any decision on whether he will extend his 15-year stay with Madrid will be made after the final.

While the 34-year-old was unwilling to give any hints as to where his future may lie, he referred to the Spanish giants as "the club of his life", and says the team has given him "everything" in his career.

"Everyone knows my passion and my love for the club of my life, which is Madrid," Marcelo added. 

"[Former club] Fluminense was in its time, it gave me everything at the beginning. Madrid has given me everything too. 

"I won't say what I think now. I don't want a statue, my story is made in Madrid, and I will continue to do so. After the final, we'll see what we do."

Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas believes the club's run to Saturday's Champions League final will mean nothing if they eventually lose to Liverpool.

With 725 matches played, Casillas trails only Raul Gonzalez for appearances made for Los Blancos, winning the Champions League three times with the club, including the famous La Decima in 2014.

Madrid have made a dramatic run to Saturday's fun, coming from behind on aggregate in all three knockout ties to eliminate Paris Saint-German, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Writing for the Player's Tribune, Casillas insisted it will matter little if Liverpool lift the trophy on Saturday instead.

"The comebacks are very good but now we have to get it. We need the icing on the cake," Casillas wrote for the Players Tribune. "If you don't get that icing, the cake won't be complete, right?

"If the cup does not reach the showcases, nobody is going to remember what happened with PSG, with Chelsea and with Manchester City. To be exciting, it has to be until the end, with the prize.

"One step away from glory for the 14th time, people think that winning the Champions League is easy and it is not. If just reaching a Champions League semi-final is something incredible, when you get one, two or three cups you have to be proud."

The 41-year-old singled out Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who has been a pivotal figure in both their LaLiga title and run to Saturday's final, with 21 clean sheets in 50 games across all competitions.

While insisting Courtois is the best goalkeeper in the world, that Casillas' athletic and versatile style in goal was long regarded as an inspiration is something he also takes pride in.

"A separate paragraph is for Courtois, and I think no one can argue that today he is the best goalkeeper in the world," he said. "It's the same thing I think of Karim [Benzema]. To rise even higher, you have to get that award. And he deserves it like nobody else, since he has been essential for Madrid to reach the final in Paris.

"I am proud that, as I did with [Luis] Arconada, he has grown up inspired by my stops, by my videos. There will be another kid out there who will want to be like Courtois tomorrow. But, in short, I am flattered to have been a part of his life."

Thibaut Courtois kept believing as Real Madrid battled back against Manchester City, having already seen the 13-time European champions prove they are "capable of anything".

On Wednesday, Madrid became the first team in the existing format of the Champions League to reach the final having lost matches in the last 16, quarter-finals and semi-finals.

City had been 4-3 winners at the Etihad Stadium in the first leg and looked on course for another victory at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Less than a minute remained with the scoreline still at 1-0 following Riyad Mahrez's seemingly vital goal.

But Rodrygo Goes then netted twice in the space of 91 seconds to take the tie to extra time, where Karim Benzema's penalty sealed a sensational triumph.

Courtois played his part, with one stunning stop from Jack Grealish prior to Rodrygo's first goal counted among eight saves.

Only two goalkeepers – Manuel Neuer against Manchester United in 2010-11 and Jan Oblak versus Bayern Munich in 2015-16 (both nine) – have previously made more saves in a single Champions League semi-final match.

And Courtois said afterwards: "This team and this club are capable of anything. We kept believing until the end, and ultimately we made it possible.

"We knew we were in better shape going into extra time; it was a case of digging in and defending well, which is what we did.

"We weren't great in front of goal – we were missing the final pass, and sometimes it feels like it won't go for you – but with the goal and the fans behind us, we knew anything could happen."

Madrid will face Liverpool in what will be a record-extending 17th European Cup or Champions League final appearance.

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could not help but twist the knife after Los Blancos secured their 35th LaLiga title on Saturday.

Following their 4-0 win over Espanyol at the Santiago Bernabeu, giving them an unassailable lead with four games to spare, Courtois had a response to a claim from Dani Alves.

With Barcelona's recent win over Real Sociedad, and March's 4-0 victory over the newly-crowned champions in mind, Alves had joked that Madrid were fortunate the Blaugrana let them open up such a huge margin.

After clinching the league, Courtois engaged in some tit-for-tat while praising Madrid's maturity and togetherness in seeing the title race through.

"After the Clasico was key," he said. "Some people celebrated as if they had won the title, that they were back.

"But we kept calm to beat Celta in a difficult game, and Getafe, which is always difficult for us.

"This is the work of the whole team," Courtois said. "We all attack and defend."

With Wednesday's Champions League semi-final second leg against Manchester City looming, it will have been a relief to head coach Carlo Ancelotti that Saturday's contest became a relatively routine victory, and the Los Blancos boss was able to stagger the minutes of Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Vinicius Jr.

Courtois noted despite the result that Espanyol did not make it easy on his side.

"We had to finish it off today," Courtois said. "Everything was ready, also for our friends, family, fans.

"We knew we couldn't slip. Espanyol gave us a very tough game at the beginning, but we were calm and after the first goal, everything was easier."

 

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