Thibaut Courtois has been a shining star for Belgium so far this World Cup, with the player’s performances going a long way in helping his country book its place in the semi-finals.
Belgium leapt to a two-goal lead, thanks to a Brazilian own goal and a surgical first-half counter from its front three of Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne. They held on to upset Brazil 2-1, courtesy of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois’ colossal performance on Friday.
Against Brazil, the 6ft 6in shot-stopper was at his mercurial best. He spread his arms in the path of Brazilian headers, got down low to punch away crosses before they reached their targets and easily collected the shots that were hit at him with power.
After the referee blew the final whistle, Courtois finished with 9 saves and had an outstanding match. However, the lanky Belgian had help from some profligate Brazil finishing at times but when he was called into action, he delivered. Towards the end, it appeared as if it would take something special from the Brazilian to beat Courtois.
When Brazil scored through substitute Renato Augusto, Courtois had very little to do. A chipped pass from Philippe Coutinho between two Belgian defenders was met beautifully by Augusto, whose pin-point header was unstoppable regardless of Courtois’ full stretch dive.
Augusto’s goal charged Brazil up and they hunted for the equaliser through open play, corners, free-kicks and what not. And just a few minutes before full-time, Courtois was called into action by Neymar.
With the game at 2-1, Neymar unleashed a curling rocket but Courtois made a brilliant save with a huge wingspan and incredible jumping ability. It was surely heading into the net and that would have forced the game to extra-time but Courtois had other ideas, denying one of the best attackers in world football.
Not only did Courtois give a testament as to why he is considered as one of the best goalkeepers across Europe but also showed the intelligence and creativity to set Belgium on counter-attacks a number of times. His quick thinking has been the source of several counter-attacks for Belgium in Russia.
Against Brazil, Courtois picked out Romelu Lukaku with a pin-missile throw to start a counter-attack. Lukaku held the ball, evaded a couple of Brazilian defenders to set his team on the run. The move didn’t create a goal but it gave a glimpse of Courtois’ presence of mind.
Real Madrid are reportedly in advanced talks with Chelsea over a deal for Courtois and his stellar performances for Belgium in the World Cup are sure to increase his value. If anything, Real should do everything in their powers to sign Thibaut Courtois.
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