Thibaut Courtois to start for Real Madrid in UCL final – Ancelotti

Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed that Thibaut Courtois will start in goal for Real Madrid in Saturday’s Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund, calling the match the “most dangerous” in football, with the game’s biggest club prize on the line.

Courtois missed much of the season with an ACL tear, but returned to fitness earlier this month, and ESPN has reported that he was set to start ahead of Andriy Lunin, who had excelled in his absence.

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Madrid are strong favourites going into the game at Wembley Stadium, London, as they look to win the European Cup for a record 15th time.

“Lunin has had flu, he hasn’t been able to train,” Ancelotti said in his pre-final news conference on Friday. “He’ll travel tomorrow. He’ll be on the bench, so Courtois will play.”

Madrid have won five Champions Leagues in the last decade — most recently in Ancelotti’s first season back at the club, in 2022 — while Dortmund have won the competition once, in 1997.

“A final is a final, it’s the most important game and the most dangerous,” Ancelotti said. “You have to enjoy being here, and then you start to worry that it could go badly.

“You’re close to the most important thing in football, winning the Champions League, and you’re scared that it could get away … The more fear you have, the happier you are when you win it.”

Veterans Luka Modric, Dani Carvajal and Nacho Fernandez would match club legend Paco Gento’s six European Cups with Madrid, if they win the trophy on Saturday.

“It was something unimaginable, but we’re here and we’re very happy, enjoying this moment,” Modric said. “Let’s hope tomorrow we can take another step as a team. Having six European Cups would be something impressive.”

Coach Ancelotti praised forward Rodrygo, whose comments describing Manchester City — beaten by Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinals — as the “best team in the world” in an interview with GQ raised eyebrows this week, feeding speculation about a possible departure.

“I’m very confident in my players, I know they’ll give everything,” Ancelotti said. “Rodrygo is very important, he has been, he is and he will be, we have no doubts about that.”