Thibaut Courtois Talks Real Madrid Treble Ambitions, Cristiano Ronaldo Exit

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2019

MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 9: Thibaut Courtois of Real Madrid during the La Liga Santander  match between Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on February 9, 2019 in Madrid Spain (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois says Los Blancos are still hoping to win the treble this season. 

Real closed the gap in La Liga to six points last weekend after they beat Atletico Madrid 3-1 on Saturday, and Barcelona were held 0-0 by Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, having been 10 behind the Blaugrana in January.

On whether Los Blancos are hoping to win the treble, Courtois told ABC (h/t AS):

"I'm not in any doubt at all—Real Madrid aspires to win every competition it plays in. The proof of that can be seen in training every day.

"We have a well-balanced team and some of the best players in the world in their position.

"I don't know one single professional in the game who, with their hand on their heart, thinks that Real Madrid won't be in the battle for every competition we're in.

"Everyone in the squad aspires to winning the lot, and we've already won the Club World Cup."

Real will take on Ajax in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 as they bid to win it for the fourth year running, and they'll take a 1-1 scoreline into the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final with Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Los Blancos had endured a difficult start to the season under Julen Lopetegui, so much so that he was sacked at the end of October having won and lost six games apiece from his first 14 in charge.

One of the factors behind Real's poor start was the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus last summer.

Pavel Golovkin/Associated Press

The Belgian did not get to play alongside the Portuguese, but he paid tribute to his legacy:

"He's a living legend at Real Madrid. The club's most recent history has been written, in the most part, with the goals he scored.

"I suffered facing Cristiano as a rival, and he's a brilliant player but at Real Madrid I'm reminded of an old Santiago Bernabeu phrase which I am in agreement with—that 'No player is more important than all of the others.'"

With Real struggling, it fell to Atletico to rival Barcelona in La Liga. The former's win on Saturday has made them the most likely challenger, even if there's still a sizeable gap to make up:

Real's derby win made for a happy return to Atletico for Courtois, who spent three seasons on loan there from Chelsea.

Los Rojiblancos supporters didn't exactly welcome him back with open arms, though:

Asked about his hostile reception, Courtois said:

"Well, that was just a lot of hot air more than anything else. I've always been very respectful to all fans from rival clubs and naturally, I am going to be respectful to Atletico fans.

"I have no hard feelings at all about that. I spent three years at Atletico, and I gave the best I had to win the trophies that we won."

It was a significant test for the 26-year-old, and he'll face another when Real host Barcelona in La Liga on March 2.

If they're to keep their La Liga title hopes alive, winning the Clasico will be a must. To do that, they'll need Courtois at his best

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