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Real Madrid Season Preview 2017/2018: Goalkeepers

Can Keylor Navas rebound after a not so satisfactory 16/17?

Juventus v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Can we call 2016/2017 a sophomore slump for the 30 year-old Costa Rican?

Embattled goalkeeper Keylor Navas had a down year, so much so, that even I was writing about who should replace him between the pipes. But he came through in the clutch when needed and secured our second Champions League title in as many years. Nevertheless, there were rumblings of David De Gea or Thibaut Courtois coming to the Spanish capital earlier this summer.

Even through all the rumors, he’s stayed true to himself and Real Madrid.

"I am very happy to form part of this great club," the Costa Rica international said. "The day of my presentation with the president is one of the things I will always keep in my heart. When you arrive at the biggest team in the world you want to be part of its history. And put your country into that history too. That dream remains alive for me, and I am looking forward to winning more trophies [with Madrid]."

- Keylor Navas; Source: ESPNFC

We are on the precipice of a new season, with Navas firmly entrenched as our #1. He’ll be looking to put last season behind him as we move forward to another term. Why don’t we take a look back as we gear up for defending our titles this season?

#1 Keylor Navas

Malaga CF v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
La Liga 2016/2017

Minutes: 2430 (12th)
Shots Faced: 294 (15th)
Saves: 78 (12th)
CS: 5 (16th)
W/L/D: 20-4-3 (2nd)

The thing that sticks out the most is 5 clean sheets. The previous season he picked up 13, which was a tie for fourth in the league. In 16/17, he was middle of the pack and actually tied with our backup keeper Kiko Casilla. Even if he didn’t pick up that many clean sheets, he’s still (according to win/loss (W/L) record) the 2nd best keeper in the league behind Marc-André ter Stegen.

UEFA Champions League 2016/2017

Minutes: 1110 (1st)
Shots Faced: 145 (1st)
Saves: 35 (3rd)
CS: 1 (16th)
W/L/D: 8-3-1 (1st)

In 2015/16 he was first in clean sheets in the Champions League with 9 and was the best goalkeeper in the tournament. Not so much in 2016/2017, where he also faced a lot more shots than in the previous season (145). Despite that hurdle, he still managed to top the Champions League in W/L/D and came clutch when it was time to buckle down and get things done.

But still, we have to wonder about his drop in form and whether it was just a slump or something to do with his surgically repaired achilles tendon?

What Can We Expect from Keylor Navas in 2017/18?

I fully expect for him to return to form and put last season in the rearview mirror. I also expect more focus from him, as it seemed at times last term that he would just check out for a hot minute, causing him to concede.

Now that there’s no question who is the number one keeper, this should put his mind at ease a bit and should make him better going forward. You’ve got to imagine, no matter what he’s said to the press that hearing all these rumors concerning the job title he’s currently holding has to have a mental effect on the Costa Rican. I still think that possibly he didn’t trust his repaired achilles as much as he should have. Possibly in the back of his mind he was afraid he’d injure it again.

#13 Kiko Casilla

RCD Espanyol v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
La Liga 2016/2017

Minutes: 990
Shots: 104
Saves: 18
CS: 5
W/L/D: 9-2-0

When Navas wasnot available at the start of the season due to his injury recovery, the club called on its stalwart #2, Kiko Casilla. He’s a company man, stepping in for Navas when needed and stepping out when necessary.

Casilla did quite well in his competitor’s absence. He appeared 19 times through all competitions including 6 starts at the beginning of the season (one of which was the first Champions League group match). While he did well, as you can see by his record, there was no way he was going to supplant Navas from his number one status.

What Can We Expect from Kiko Casilla in 2017/18?

I suspect that we’ll see him in goal in the Copa Del Rey with Ruben Yanez backing him up. Last season he started 6 matches in the Copa and I’d expect the same thing to happen this season, though I’d like to see the team make a bit of a deeper run in the competition.

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