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Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in ‘happy place’ ahead of Champions League semifinal with former club


The Real Madrid goalkeeper is preparing for his new team’s vital Champions League semifinal against Chelsea on Wednesday, with the aggregate score level at 1-1 after last week’s first leg in Madrid, in which he played an important role.

With Madrid under the hammer in the first half at Los Blancos’ Valdebebas training ground, the big Belgian proved an immovable object, with a massive save early on to deny Timo Werner what looked a surefire goal.

Having initially struggled with some battles with form and competition from former stalwart Keylor Navas upon his arrival at the club, the 28-year-old admits that he’s playing in his “happy place.”

A large part of his return to dominance is his return to Madrid — having spent three seasons on loan at Real’s rivals, Atlético — and reuniting with his family, according to Courtois.

“Since my first year in Madrid, I always felt like [it was] a second home. I also met the mom of my kids there,” the two-time Premier League and two-time La Liga winner told CNN Sport’s Don Riddell.

“So obviously when I had the chance to play for Madrid and to go back to Madrid to be closer to my kids, it was amazing for me … I love to play for, for me personally, the biggest team in the world. That always has been a dream.

“And also to be close to my kids, to see them grow every day, to bring them to school, to their after school events they have. That just makes someone happy. And also I think that shows on the pitch. I’m playing well and I’m helping the team win.”

Courtois won’t be the only former Chelsea player hoping to help qualify Real Madrid for the Champions League Final.

Eden Hazard, who spent seven years in west London, has returned to fitness at just the right time after a season of consistent injury setbacks and could be in line to start against his old side.

In addition to Champions League contention, Real Madrid is very much still in the hunt for the Spanish league title.

The reigning champions sit two points off Atlético, with Barcelona tied with Real on the same points with just a few rounds of fixtures remaining.



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