'Courtois is the best goalkeeper in the world' – Belgium boss Martinez backs dropped Real Madrid goalkeeper

The Red Devils manager spoke after seeing his number one dropped by Los Blancos for their win over Alaves on Saturday

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez insists that Real Madrid shot-stopper Thibaut Courtois is the best goalkeeper in the world.

Courtois was dropped to the bench for Real Madrid’s 2-1 win over Alaves in La Liga on Saturday amid criticism of his recent performances.

However, his international boss Martinez labelled the 27-year-old the world’s best despite admitting the goalkeeper was going through a “difficult period”.

“Thibaut is for me the best goalkeeper in the world, as he showed at the [2018] World Cup,” Martinez said on Saturday.

“From there, he is the best person for me to defend Real Madrid’s goal.

“It has been a difficult period, but I think that the opportunity to return with the national team has helped him to regain the good feelings, in the same way that we hope that the successes he has at Real Madrid can help us in the Euros.”

Belgium were drawn alongside Denmark, Finland and Russia in Group B for Euro 2020. They qualified as Group I winners with a perfect record across 10 matches, scoring 40 goals and conceding just three in the process.

Courtois appeared in nine of those victories, conceding two, with Simon Mignolet taking his place for the final win over Cyprus.

But it has been a different story at club level. Despite keeping five clean sheets in 11 games to help Real to number one spot in the Liga table, he has been replaced by on-loan signing Alphonse Areola on three occasions.

The French goalkeeper also came in for Courtois at half-time in the Champions League draw with Club Brugge back in October.

Courtois’ latest demotion came away at Alaves, with defenders Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal scoring either side of a penalty from former Arsenal striker Lucas Perez to secure victory for Zinedine Zidane’s side.

But Courtois looks certain to remain in between the sticks for his country next summer, when Belgium travel to Saint Petersburg and Copenhagen to take on Russia and Denmark respectively. They then return to Saint Petersburg to face off with tournament newcomers Finland.

The competition will undoubtedly prove to be a more demanding challenge for the Belgian, who was largely inactive as his side eased past the likes of San Marino, Scotland and Cyprus in qualifying, with Kazakhstan and Russia providing the toughest opposition in the past year.

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