MADRID, Spain, May 27 – Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has said he won’t be afraid to take a penalty if the Champions League final against Liverpool goes all the way on Saturday.
Courtois has an impressive penalty record this season, having stopped three of his five clashes, including one from Lionel Messi against Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the last 16.
It proved a pivotal moment as Madrid came from 1-0 down in the second leg to win the tie 3-2.
The Belgian was also instrumental in Madrid’s last penalty shootout victory of 2020, as he dived to fend off Thomas Partey’s shot in the Spanish Super Cup final against Atletico Madrid. Real Madrid won their last Champions League final which ended in penalties, also against Atletico in 2016.
Courtois said he would do his homework on Liverpool’s most likely takers, while the 30-year-old said he was also ready to step in if necessary.
“I remember in pre-season with Chelsea against PSG I scored one and in the Community Shield against Arsenal I missed one,” Courtois said. “(Antonio) Conte put me there because he knew I could shoot well, but obviously staying put, in an important moment, is different.
“I wouldn’t be one of the top five (takers), that’s for sure, but maybe after that, if you need to shoot, you have to shoot. I’m not afraid of it. It’s a time to shine.
“We won one (shoot-out) against Atletico Madrid in the Super Cup a few years ago when I saved a penalty. This season I saved three.
“You study first. Against Chelsea we had two penalties and you study them because you can see the similarities. I hope it doesn’t come back to that, but if it does, I’ll be ready.
Mohamed Salah has previously said he wanted revenge for their loss to Real Madrid in the 2018 final, when two errors by Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius handed victory to Madrid.
Liverpool signed Alisson Becker a few weeks later for a world record €75m and the Brazilian has been a revelation ever since.
“He’s a great keeper,” Courtois said. “The times I played against him in England and with Real, he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
“He has great quality and has saved Liverpool many times. These days you need a good defense and a good goalkeeper and at the other end you need attackers who score you goals, that’s what takes you far.
“If you go back 15 or 20 years, it was really different,” added Courtois. “To be a goalkeeper now you have to be a playmaker from behind, you have to come out as a ‘libero’ to (meet) the ball behind and run and take it.
“They expect you to be calm on the ball and provide assists, but obviously you don’t have anyone behind you who can save you because you’re the last man.
“You know sometimes there can be a mistake and I hope it doesn’t come for me. I don’t wish that on any goalkeeper.”
Real Madrid have shown their magic touch again in the Champions League this season, having staged three consecutive comebacks against PSG, Chelsea and then Manchester City to reach the final.
“You just have to see the games we played at home against Paris, Chelsea and City. The moment we equalize or score that goal, the reaction of the other team – you can see they know what can happen” , Courtois said.
“You can see at 1-1 against City, the reaction of the players. That’s what makes Madrid so special, that’s why it’s so amazing and people talk so much about the history of Real Madrid.”
Real Madrid will feature in a record 14th European Cup while Liverpool will chase their seventh, to edge closer to AC Milan as the second most successful club in the competition’s history.
Liverpool have already won the League Cup and the FA Cup in England this season.
“We don’t have to go crazy because it’s a game that can come and go,” Courtois said. “We have to be clear about how we want to play and not play their game. We have to make them play our game, that’s the most important thing.