Atletico Madrid v Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois concerned about 'playing poorly' in Champions League semi-final
The Belgian keeper will play against his parent club on Tuesday
Monday 21 April 2014
Atletico Madrid's on-loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has admitted his relief at being allowed to play against parent club Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals.
The 21-year-old goalkeeper has established himself as one of the key figures in Diego Simeone's eye-catching side as they pursue both domestic and continental honours, but had feared he may be forced to miss one of the biggest games of their season after the Champions League draw paired Atletico with his English employers.
Reports suggested Courtois would only be able to play if Atletico paid Chelsea a substantial sum - something the club had said they were unable to do - until UEFA released a statement saying any such contract clause would be invalid and Courtois could play.
"(I was) very relieved," Courtois told FIFA's website. "For me, the fact that we've drawn Chelsea, like we did in the European Super Cup [in 2012, when Atletico won 4-1], is special, because even though I'm at Atleti, Chelsea are my club too. It's better not to think about it too much though and play like I always do, because if I start thinking, 'Oh, I'd better be careful', then I'll end up playing poorly.
"I want to win trophies here and I'll be an Atleti supporter for these two games, but at all other times I'm a Chelsea fan too. I hope they win the Premier League, just not these two [Champions League] matches. I really hope we can reach the final as we're so close. They're the favourites, but [beaten quarter-final opponents] Barca were too."
The first leg of the tie will be played in Madrid on Tuesday, with the return in London next week.
Atletico are also the surprise leaders in the Primera Division, topping the table from Barcelona by four points with four games left, with Real Madrid also still in the hunt just behind and with a game in hand.
Courtois has already lifted the Europa League, UEFA Super Cup and Copa del Rey in his three seasons on loan in Madrid, and admits he never expected so much success when he first made the move.
"I didn't expect it, no," he said. "I remember playing my first game in the Belgian league just before turning 17 and dreaming of having a good career over there, but I didn't imagine playing for a big club or winning trophies like these.
"And now we're not far away from the most important one of them all, the Champions League. We've got the Liga title close too which, because of Barcelona and [Real] Madrid, you never think you'll get the chance to win. They've got better individuals but we're a very good team and that's important, because you don't need to rely on any one player to win the championship.
"It's going to be hard to repeat all this though. We're having a huge season and, now we've got this far, we've got to try and take advantage. It'll be tough to take if it ends without us winning anything, but it won't be for lack of trying."
Latest in Sport
Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs posts bizarre video of his Miami holiday being invaded by an iguana
British Grand Prix 2015: What time does it start, where can I watch it and are tickets still available?
Women's World Cup 2015: England secure third place as they beat Germany in extra time with penalty by Fara Williams
Why is it that there’s no women’s team at Manchester United? - Michael Calvin
Chelsea transfer news: Diego Costa wants a reunion with £25m Manchester United target Arda Turan... because he loves his kebabs
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture