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Courtois: “Real Madrid have many fans in Saudi Arabia, it’s like playing at home here”

The goalkeeper spoke in a pre-Super Cup press conference.


Real Madrid are in Saudi Arabia for the Spanish Super Cup, and they’ll take on Valencia on Wednesday night. Ahead of that semi-final, Thibaut Courtois spoke at a player press conference on Tuesday and previewed the game as so: “It’ll be a tough match against a tough opponent, with a high tempo. We need to just focus on this game first and then look at the final, which would be another chance to win a trophy for Real Madrid. We want to win again following the loss we suffered the other day. We watched a video today of what we’d done badly in that Villarreal game and we’re ready.”

Courtois on his recovery from sciatica

Having missed some games due to pain from sciatica earlier in the season, Courtois was asked how he is doing physically. He responded: “It was a little more than sciatica, but I feel really good now. I’ve felt good since the World Cup. I think I had a good World Cup apart from the first Morocco goal, with a couple of clean sheets even if the team didn’t go through.”

Courtois on Real Madrid’s physical state

Asked how the squad as a whole is doing physically, the goalkeeper said: “We had a sort of pre-season and we’ve all done some physical work. Those who went further in the World Cup came back more fatigued, which is normal. But, I think we’re doing well physically. Maybe we’ll notice it later in the season.”

Courtois on Real Madrid’s goals against numbers

Real Madrid are conceding many more goals this season compared to last year and also a lot of chances that the Belgian is having to stop with wonder saves. Asked if he is concerned about how many saves he is being asked to make, he replied: “In modern football, it’s rare for a goalkeeper to not have work to do. It’s not a problem and it was also the same last year. This year we have conceded more, but I’m not worried. Against Villarreal, we had two unfortunate goals that we conceded, the first from a bad pass and then it hit Mendy, while the second was from a dubious penalty.”

Courtois on handball penalties

Pressed further on the two penalty decisions from the Villarreal game, Courtois said that neither should have resulted in a spot kick. He stated: “Before the season or before any FIFA or UEFA tournaments, the referees come to speak to you and the meeting can be long, like one hour. They often tell you in these pre-season meetings that they’re going to call or not call certain things, but then they don’t follow through and it creates confusion. I think with the handball penalties the other day, both of the penalties were unfortunate, the one we got and the one against. Maybe we need to look at which handballs truly affect the play and which ones don’t.”

Courtois on returning to Saudi Arabia

Asked for his thoughts on playing this tournament in Riyadh, Courtois said: “For us, it’s a pleasure to come here to Saudi Arabia. We know we have a lot of fans here and we saw that the two previous times we came here. For us, it’s like playing at home. We have fans from all around the world and it’s nice for us to come closer to the fans who can’t come to watch us in Madrid.”

Courtois on Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Al Nassr

Asked by a local journalist about Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent transfer to Al Nassr, the Belgian said: “Obviously the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo to Saudi Arabia shows that this is a country that wants to grow in sports. You see it with other sports, such as Formula 1, and we saw it with the national team’s performances in the World Cup.”

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