by Tim Stannard
Areola between the pipes as Madrid declare that Courtois suffering from flu
One of the more curious conspiracy theories doing the rounds this week in the soccer dimension was over the substitution of Thibaut Courtois halfway through Real Madrid’s Champions League debacle against Club Brugge on Tuesday. Halftime substitutions are unusual but especially so for a goalkeeper.
Official Announcement: Courtois.#RealMadrid— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) October 4, 2019
The Belgian was replaced by Alphonse Areola at the break with the team 2-0 down and Courtois conceding five Champions League goals in just a game and a half. Madrid eventually recovered with the Frenchman in goal to draw 2-2. The reason given at the time for the change was that the Belgian had a troublesome tummy and could not continue. The internet decided that Courtois had either had enough of the Bernabeu boos or Coach Zizou had had enough of the Belgian.
Courtois has since missed the rest of the week’s training to enforce the idea that he was properly ill, in the same way that taking one sick day from work is a bit iffy but two or three is much more believable.
However, the rumors did not die down forcing Madrid to go through the unusual step of issuing a communication on Friday to declare that “at no stage has our player been diagnosed with an alleged anxiety attack” and that the footballer had been suffering from a severe case of gastroenteritis.
This does beg the question of why Courtois was playing a Champions League game of football in the first place if feeling a little wobbly.
By happy coincidence, Zidane himself went before the media on Friday ahead of Saturday’s home league clash against Granada to discuss the matter further. “It can happen that a footballer can play and then at halftime he can’t,” shrugged the Frenchman who could also be referring to the entire Tottenham Hotspur side against Bayern Munich.
One of Zidane’s 99 problems for the game is a lack of leftbacks as both Marcelo and Ferland Mendy are injured for the visit of a Granada side that is in second place. Gareth Bale might well be an option in that position although the footballer is in hot water for being filmed arriving for the Club Brugge game four minutes after it had started. The fact that the Welshman was not in the matchday squad certainly worked in the player’s favor on this occasion.
Real Madrid and Barcelona blanked in latest Spain squad
Spain has announced a 24-man squad for the upcoming international break where the country will play two Euro 2020 qualifiers against Norway and Sweden.
⚠ OFICIAL | Estos son los convocados para los próximos partidos ante Noruega y Suecia.— Selección Española de Fútbol (@SeFutbol) October 4, 2019
Por favor, rogamos que comprueben sus tarjetas de embarque. ¡¡DESPEGAMOS!!✈#UnidosPorUnRETO #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/xW2zL444wM
As well as the roster containing Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal, the list has three players who began their careers at Madrid but have since been rejected - Sergio Reguilon, Diego Llorente, Rodrigo. Dani Ceballos is also there, a midfielder who was shipped out to Arsenal this season. In fact, the squad only contains three footballers from either Real Madrid or Barcelona with Sergi Busquets being the only representative from the camp Nou. Jordi Alba is injured, Gerard Pique is retired but there was no room for Ansu Fati.
The Sports Burst live show with Gabrielle Amado and George D Metellus will work out what all this means as it looks ahead to the weekend at 12PM ET. Just head to our beIN SPORTS USA Facebook page.
Barcelona target Gallardo as Valverde replacement
Staying with Barcelona and in news from TNT Sports that will be tickle our Ray Hudson pink, the Camp Nou club has reportedly found their coach who will inevitably replace Ernesto Valverde sooner rather than later.
That manager is current River Plate boss, Marcelo Gallardo. The former PSG, Monaco - and DC United - player is on the brink of taking River Plate to the Copa Libertadores final where he could win back-to-back victories in the tournament. A contract to 2021 could be an issue though, although as Barcelona showed with Griezmann, valid contracts isn’t necessarily a brick wall.
Luis Suarez has been given a sick note and will not be taking part in any action for Uruguay over the international break, as Barca tries to keep his leg muscles together with duct tape.
However, Suarez should be in action along with Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann (or Ousmane Dembele) in a humdinger of a Sunday La Liga clash against Sevilla that you can catch live, live, live on beIN SPORTS at 3PM ET.
The La Liga weekend gets underway on Friday with a struggling Betis side that has just two wins from seven hosting Eibar. Full coverage of the Spanish weekend gets underway with Viva La Liga at 1:30PM ET ahead of the match.