Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is looking forward to a bittersweet homecoming to Stamford Bridge when Los Blancos face Chelsea in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash on April 6.
First, the Belgian will be hoping for revenge after The Blues eliminated Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the same competition last year. Real Madrid were the favourites to advance, but Chelsea managed to pull off a convincing upset over the 13-time European Champions before eventually claiming last season’s title.
This season, Los Blancos will be hoping for a different result, and Courtois will be key to their success. However, he is well aware that he may face some hostility from the home fans. He had spent seven years making a name for himself with Chelsea before being picked up by the Spanish giants in 2018. He enjoyed success with the Premier League side, and he is hoping the fans will remember.
“It will be special. Last year, we lost in the semis and I hope this year will be a victory. This year is going to be different because there will be fans. It will be special and while, at best there will be some whistles, I hope that people remember the beautiful moments,” he said, as quoted by Football Espana.
He then remembered the successful years he enjoyed in London. “We won two titles, an FA Cup. For me, Chelsea is a special team, they helped me be the goalkeeper I am today,” he added. “They bought me when I was 18 and gave me the opportunity to be at Atletico, to play in the Premier League, to win it.”
He also said that he is looking forward to seeing old friends. Incidentally, Real Madrid teammate and fellow former Chelsea player Eden Hazard landed in hot water last year, after he was seen having a laugh with Chelsea players after Real Madrid were eliminated.
For his part, Courtois admitted that he too, will be happy to see familiar faces. “It’s an important team and I have many friends there. It’s always a pleasure to face them again.”
This year, he will be hoping to have a reason to be out laughing at the end of the tie. Hazard meanwhile, won’t be in the squad as he is recovering from a recent surgery to remove a plate from his right fibula.