Zidane: Neither Courtois nor anyone else is guaranteed a starting place

Zinedine Zidane has leapt to the defence of Thibaut Courtois after the goalkeeper received a lot of criticism for his first-half performance against Club Brugge.

Courtois was whistled and then taken off at half-time with stomach problems at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

He was replaced by Alphonse Areola, with some Madrid fans believing that this should be a permanent switch in goal.

“Unfair or not, it is what it is [in relation to the whistles] and he knows it, he’s strong,” Zidane told the press ahead of Real Madrid’s game with Granada.

“He knows that everyone was to blame for the first half against Brugge; we don’t have to go around in circles.

“There’s always a [goalkeeping] debate here, there always will be. You’re doing your job and I’m doing mine.

“I have 25 players and I’m counting on all of them. You keep three clean sheets and it was him [in goal], what am I going to tell you? We’re going to continue onwards. We have a game tomorrow.

“I can talk with every player, I can talk about these things, but not after Brugge.

“We know what we did, the second half wasn’t spectacular either, but we turned up and we changed the game.

“You have to know that they’re having a good season, we’re better than two months ago and we’ll be better in the future, I’m sure.

Courtois was taken off at half-time with a stomach problem on Tuesday and Zidane confirmed that he wasn’t feeling well.

“He was in a bad way,” the Real Madrid boss stated.

“It can happen now and again.

“He was in a mess, it can happen, but a player can play [through it] and at half-time he couldn’t play [any longer].”

Courtois is under pressure as Real Madrid’s No.1 goalkeeper and could lose his place to Areola.

“No one is guaranteed [a place in the team], I’ve never said this,” Zidane explained.

“We’ve got 25 players and I’m going to count on all of them, always, from start to finish.

“It makes me laugh because it’s true, but you want me to take all this.

“He’s not the only one responsible for what happened [against Brugge]. We’ve accepted it but it’s not all his fault because we’ve also talked about the three games before where he kept a clean sheet.

“You always have to be good. If we don’t score, if we concede, it’s always going to be the same and what do you want me to say. If we play first against second [when Madrid face Granada on Saturday], it will be because we haven’t done too badly.”

Areola performed well during the second half against Brugge and Zidane is happy that his compatriot has adapted to life in Spain already.

“He’s a great goalkeeper, like Thibaut,” he noted.

“We have two good goalkeepers.

“Everyone is important and each player knows where they stand; they train and they want to play and then I decide.

“The players have to be ready because it’s not always the same players who play. Sure, some play more than others. Areola has settled in very quickly.”

There have been reports that Gareth Bale turned up late to watch Los Blancos against Brugge on Tuesday after being left out of the matchday squad.

“This stays inside [the club], you have information that you mustn’t have,” Zidane said about the situation.

“I have to speak to the player because you have information you mustn’t have, but we can we do?”

Despite their Champions League struggles, Zidane’s side are still unbeaten in LaLiga Santander and currently sit top of the table. They’ll go up against second-placed Granada at the Bernabeu on Saturday, looking to extend their lead at the top.

“Tomorrow we play first against second and it means everything,” Zidane affirmed.

“They’re a team that is have a good season, like us, and we have to play a good game [to get a good result].

“There’s been little time to recover for this game tomorrow and we’re ready.”