Last night’s match between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona had been branded in some quarters as the biggest match in Europe. I had been guilty of such anticipation myself.
But in the end the game between La Liga’s top two – each showing no signs of giving the other an inch – ended 0-0, with few clear-cut chances and some wondering what all the fuss was about.
While much of the anticipation was for the marquee players, both Lionel Messi and Neymar started on the bench, leaving the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas to probe for Barcelona while Diego Costa attempted to add to his impressive goal-tally for the hosts.
And while the Argentine and the Brazilian were introduced in the second half, Thibaut Courtois’s goal was rarely threatened; which brings me, rather belatedly, to my point.
The Chelsea ‘keeper currently on loan at Atletico kept his 10th league clean-sheet of the season, and his 13th in all competitions.
But despite being handed the gloves in a match that had just as much significance as an El Clasico (at least for this season), it appears the Belgian is no closer to guaranteeing a regular starting birth at the club who signed him as a teenager.
Given that Cech is 31, that suggests the Chelsea boss believes his current number 1 can still do the business for years to come.
The problem is so can Courtois.
Cech has 11 clean-sheets for the season – eight in the league and three in the Champions League.
To argue which is the biggest achievement – to have a shut-out in England or in Spain – is a debate that could go on forever. But Courtois is 10 years Cech’s senior, and he is already outdoing him in those particular statistics.
So I suppose the only thing Mourinho should consider is that if a ‘keeper really is at his best between 30 and 35, imagine how good Courtois will be by then, and how much of a regret it will be if he is no longer at Stamford Bridge.
image: © mr-football