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  • Thibaut Courtois Given Nod Ahead of Andriy Lunin to Start for Real Madrid in Champions League Final
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  • 12 June 2024

Thibaut Courtois Given Nod Ahead of Andriy Lunin to Start for Real Madrid in Champions League Final

Thibaut Courtois, the Belgium international goalkeeper, has been confirmed as Real Madrid's starter for Saturday's UEFA Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley. This decision comes after Courtois made a remarkable return from a serious knee ligament injury sustained in August, which initially seemed likely to sideline him for the entire 2023/24 season.

Courtois’ road to recovery saw him back in action in May, where he maintained clean sheets in crucial La Liga matches against Cadiz, Granada, Alaves, and Real Betis. His return posed a selection dilemma for Real Madrid’s coach, Carlo Ancelotti, especially given the impressive performances of Andriy Lunin in the Champions League during Courtois' absence. Lunin, who stepped up following an injury to Kepa Arrizabalaga in November, delivered notable performances, including a standout display in the quarter-final against Manchester City, where he saved penalties from Bernardo Silva and Mateo Kovacic.

However, Lunin’s hopes of starting in the final were dashed when he was struck by illness earlier this week. Despite being included in the squad for Wembley, Lunin will be on the bench, with Courtois reclaiming his position between the posts.

“Lunin has had the flu,” Ancelotti revealed in a press conference on Friday. “He's going to travel. He is going to be on the bench of course and, yes, Thibaut Courtois is going to be in goal tomorrow.”

Real Madrid head into the final as strong favorites, aiming to secure their 15th European Cup. Ancelotti emphasized the importance of managing emotions and maintaining focus. “Emotions arrive; everyone has to manage it according to their own character,” the Italian said. “Of course, we will have emotions, maybe a bit of concern before the game, but managing those emotions is important."

Reflecting on his team's journey this season, Ancelotti highlighted the squad's exceptional quality and collective sacrifice. "Doing things well tomorrow we are very confident because throughout the season my team has proven two very important things. The quality is fantastic for them. Another important thing is the sacrifice for the team. The collective attitude of the team. Being able to prove throughout the season – sacrifice plus quality – are going to be key for tomorrow's game."

Real Madrid’s resilience has been evident throughout their Champions League campaign. They overcame deficits against Manchester City and staged a late comeback to defeat Bayern Munich in the semi-finals. Ancelotti noted, “It happens a lot of time [comebacks]. There is something special in this club. It will be studied. I think it's something special that depends on what? I don't know – maybe traditions, quality, character of the player. It happens so many times."

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