Schwarzer & Neville hail Courtois - does he top Cech next season?

Petr Cech

Chelsea's reserve shot-stopper has claimed that both Atletico Madrid goalkeeper and Petr Cech are "world class".

Thibaut Courtois' performance for Atletico Madrid against his parent club Chelsea in the Champions League semifinal on Wednesday, April 30, has attracted plaudits from current Stamford Bridge understudy shot-stopper Mark Schwarzer and Sky Sports analyst Gary Neville.

"I thought he was outstanding," Schwarzer summarised, as reported by Reuters UK.

While Chelsea only hit the target on five occasions, scoring with one of those accurate strikes in the 36th minute thanks to Fernando Torres, Courtois had a relatively quiet evening at his West London office.

The Belgian, though, needed to be on guard in the second half especially and beat the Blues' best efforts when he denied John Terry's superb header and a late effort from Eden Hazard.

"He had a great game," commented Schwarzer, 41, a player who has been Chelsea's secondary goalkeeper since his acquisition from Fulham last summer. "If we'd been a bit lucky and he'd been a bit unlucky we could have got back in the game and there could have been a few more nervy moments towards the end for them. It wasn't the case."

Schwarzer is not the only prominent member of the football community praising Courtois, as he has also been lauded by former Manchester United mainstay Gary Neville, who said that the 21-year-old's performance resembled that of "a great goalkeeper!"

Petr Cech remains Chelsea's primary glovesman and there was a debate to be had that he would be included in the line-up for the second leg of the semifinal versus Atletico as the Czech Republic international said he "of course" was fit when turning up for training earlier this week.

On the emerging rivalry between two top-class keepers on the books at the SW6 club - Cech and Courtois, Schwarzer said: "They are both world class goalkeepers and I wouldn't say that they are at different ends of their careers because Petr still has a long way to go with his career."

Statistically, veteran player Cech still has the edge, though, as he has made 81 saves from 34 appearances in the Premier League, keeping 16 sheets clean in the process.

Courtois, meanwhile, has returned 63 saves from 34 appearances in La Liga, keeping 20 sheets clean in the process.

It is the latter, the younger man, the wonderkid Courtois, though, who, in a twist of irony, could end up with more silverware than the more experienced Cech.

Not only could he win a Champions League winners medal with Atletico after helping them remain undefeated in Europe, banking an appearance in the final to be contested with local rivals Real Madrid, but his club are also on course to claim the La Liga title as they have a four point lead in the table with just three games remaining.

On a Sky Sports podcast, Neville said that Chelsea have a big decision to make.

"It would be harsh on Cech. He was voted by the PFA, his fellow players, as being the best goalkeeper in the league this year - and I actually put him in my team of the season but if you are talking about the future and grabbing a goalkeeper back who is going to play for you for the next 10 to 15 years then he just looks a massive talent.

"I think they would have to [bring him back] and that would potentially be harsh on Petr Cech because I think he's a top goalkeeper. He's maybe not at the level he was at in 2005, but still a very good goalkeeper. However, they look like they've got somebody special there."

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