REVEALED: Thibaut Courtois ‘told Karim Benzema to switch ends on his Stamford Bridge return’ because the Real Madrid shot-stopper ‘wanted to play in front of Chelsea’s most HOSTILE fans’ during the first half
- Thibaut Courtois reportedly told Karim Benzema to switch ends ahead of the tie
- The Belgium goalkeeper was keen to play in front of Chelsea’s most hostile fans
- Real Madrid ended up securing a 3-1 victory over Chelsea in the first leg of the tie
- Courtois, 29, was disappointed by being booed by the Blues fans on his return
Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois reportedly told Real Madrid captain Karim Benzema to switch ends for the start of their Champions League tie at Stamford Bridge because he wanted to play in front of the most hostile stand from the start.
The 29-year-old Belgium international expected a bad reception from the home supporters because of the manner in which he left in 2018.
Courtois originally joined Chelsea from Genk for £7 million in 2011 and was their first choice goalkeeper between 2014–18, winning four major trophies.
Thibaut Courtois told Real Madrid captain Karim Benzema to switch ends at Stamford Bridge
The 29-year-old was keen to play in front of the most hostile stand from the start of the tie
The shot-stopper, however, went on strike to force a £35million move to Los Blancos four years ago and the Blues supporters have never forgiven him, often sending him snake emojis on social media.
With the Matthew Harding Stand regarded as the home end at Chelsea, Courtois wanted to stand in that goal for the first half to face the hostility from the off.
Courtois also knows that his former Chelsea teammates like to attack that stand in the second half, so you would that was part of his thoughts as well.
The goalkeeper told Frenchman Benzema at the coin toss to request playing toward the Shed End, where the away supporters are housed, according to The Athletic.
Courtois knows that Chelsea like to attack the Matthew Harding Stand in the second-half
Courtois conceded Chelsea’s only goal in their 3-1 victory in the first leg of their quarter-final tie just before half-time as forward Kai Havertz found the back of the net.
After the break, with the Real Madrid fans showing him far more appreciation in the Shed End, Courtois shone, making a brilliant save from Cesar Azpilicueta and another fine stop to deny Reece James to prevent Chelsea from narrowing the gap.
Courtois kept his celebrations of Real’s goals under control so he didn’t make the situation worse and when one Chelsea fan abused him as he walked out on to the pitch to conduct a TV interview afterwards, he put his thumb up and smiled.
The Belgium star, however, claimed that he was disappointed at being booed by Blues fans on his return to Stamford Bridge.
The Belgium international was disappointed to be booed by the Blues fans on his return
He was booed by the Blues fans when his name was read out over the PA system before the game, while he was also given a frosty reception during it.
After the two sides swapped ends following the coin toss, Courtois received abuse from the Matthew Harding Lower end as he ran towards his goal.
A chorus of ‘Thibaut you’re a c***’ could be heard.
After seven years at Chelsea, Courtois left the Blues under a cloud in 2018 after seeking a move to Real Madrid, despite enjoying plenty of success and making over 154 appearances for the Blues.
Courtois was at Chelsea for seven years, before leaving under a cloud for Real back in 2018
‘Obviously I knew it wouldn’t be friendly, especially in the stadium,’ he told BT Sport.
‘Maybe if you see some people outside the ground they will be more friendly.
‘It’s obviously part of football, that’s unfortunate because how they painted my departure was not how it went through.
‘But I’m happy with the result and I will always care about the special moments here at the Bridge, two leagues.
‘It’s not easy to win two Premier Leagues in four years, so I’m happy for that and the moments here, so what happened today [the boos] I don’t take it too much.’