Madrid have won a record 13 times, six more than any other club, but LaLiga’s underwhelming start to the season hardly helped inspire confidence that they could claim their 14th title in May.
Madrid are always favourites
Thibaut Courtois has insisted that Real Madrid are “always favourites” in the Champions League while expressing confidence that Los Blancos can re-conquer Europe in 2020-21. Madrid have won a record 13 times, six more than any other club, but LaLiga’s underwhelming start to the season hardly helped inspire confidence that they could claim their 14th title in May. Real Madrid are third in the early LaLiga standings, one point behind early leaders Real Sociedad to a 1-0 home loss to newly-promoted Cadiz last time. Zinedine Zidane’s side failed to reach the quarterfinals last season, losing in a two-legged last-16 tie to Manchester City with a five-month interval between games due to the suspension of football amid the Covid-19 crisis.
Los Blancos have enough quality to win 14th title
Having played a draw in Group B with Inter, Borussia Monchengladbach and Shakhtar Donetsk, history firmly on the side of Madrid of progressing to the knockout stages. Madrid have made it through all 28 of their Champions League group stages, and Courtois has full confidence in his ability to go all the way again. “I am sure we can win this Champions League,” Courtois said ahead of Wednesday’s clash with Shakhtar. “Real Madrid are always the favourites in this competition. I’m pretty sure, and I’m confident that we have enough quality in the team to win this title. I mean we are not the number one favourites, there are many teams in the hat. But we a candidate for the title. Juve, Bayern, Barça, there are many good clubs, it is the most attractive competition in the world, and we will do our best to win the title.”
Madrid will be tough favourites to beat Shakhtar, winning every meeting with the Ukrainian side in the 2015-16 group stage. However, Shakhtar are unbeaten in their last three Champions League away games under coach Luis Castro. Courtois has once again found himself in sensational form for Madrid, with his shaky start at the Santiago Bernabeu after joining the club from Chelsea in 2018 is now no more than a distant memory. Of the previous 43 shots on target he faced in LaLiga, Courtois has saved 38 and his stats for his season show he has kept 16 of 19 on-target efforts. When asked what inspired his return to form, the 28-year-old replied, “I feel perfect personally. Nothing has changed, I work like the first day, but a change is never easy. When you join a new team, you need time to adapt.”