Courtois vs Lunin: Who should start for Real Madrid in the UCL final?

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Real Madrid have successfully qualified for the UEFA Champions League final once again as they beat Bayern Munich in the semi-final in another dramatic encounter.

With the league title already secured, this season has turned out to be very successful for the Merengues, as they are only one step away from claiming another double after having made this achievement only two years ago.

Hopes of having such a successful season were slim at the start, especially as Real Madrid lost two of its key players in defense, Thibaut Courtois and Eder Militao, while David Alaba also suffered a season-ending injury some months later. However, Andriy Lunin, Nacho, and Tchouameni stepped up in their absence and these three players were not missed too much.

Now, that both Eder Militao and Thibaut Courtois have recovered from their injuries, and are ready for action, Carlo Ancelotti has a difficult decision to make, especially regarding the goalkeeping position in the UEFA Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund.

Throughout this season, Lunin has rarely given Ancelotti any cause for complaint and has performed at a very high level. In his 20 La Liga appearances this season, he has conceded only 13 goals and has kept 10 clean sheets. However, his record in the UCL is somewhat less impressive, as he has conceded 10 goals in 8 appearances, and kept two clean sheets.

Courtois has barely played this season, but his statistics from the last season can be used to make a comparison against Lunin. In 2022-23, the Belgian conceded 29 goals in 31 league appearances, and kept 10 clean sheets, while also conceding 11 goals and keeping five clean sheets in 10 UCL games.

Thus, there is very little to separate the two keepers, but one thing that goes against Courtois is that he has not had many minutes under his belt this season, and it is not clear if he will be sharp enough for a match of this intensity. Still, he was able to play the full 90 minutes and keep a clean sheet against Cadiz in Madrid’s last league game.

Real Madrid still have four league games left, although they have already wrapped up the title mathematically. Courtois will have to play and prove himself in these four games, including some difficult ties against Villarreal and Real Betis, to have any chance to play in the UCL final.

But before that happens, Andriy Lunin should be the clear starter for Real Madrid in the UCL final, as he has proven himself to be a dependable shot-stopper in Courtois’ absence. He not only is the more in-form of the two goalkeepers, but also deserves a chance to play in the biggest match in Europe after having held his own against the likes of RB Leipzig, Manchester City, and Bayern Munich.

This stance is also taken by someone who knows more about goalkeeping than almost anyone else, the Real Madrid legend Ikey Casillas. As Mundo Deportivo has reported, the former captain spoke to the media after Real Madrid’s win over Bayern, and provided his opinion on who should start in the final:

“Lunin has shown that he is a reliable goalkeeper, that he can be there at any time. It’s not a matter of whether it’s my decision or not, but Lunin should play.”

On the other hand, Casillas believed that Courtois does not have anything to prove, as he has already shown his level in the last few years:

“Courtois has just recovered from an injury, and it’s true that the other day he played very well, but he’s still not at competition rhythm. He has already proven his level extensively, as he did last year. I am convinced that when he returns, he will have that great level.”

Thus, as things stand, Lunin should be the one who protects Real Madrid’s goal in the upcoming final. However, it remains to be seen what decision Carlo Ancelotti makes on the 1st of June, and the upcoming La Liga matches in between can also prove to be crucial in helping the Italian make a decision in this regard.

Ahmad Sarmad Ansari
Ahmad Sarmad Ansari
Ahmad Sarmad Ansari, a dedicated sports journalist and Real Madrid fan, has written over 2000 articles for Barca News Network and Madrid Voice. With a degree in Political Science and English Literature from Forman Christian College, he provides expert analyses and comprehensive La Liga coverage.

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