New Real Madrid signing Thibaut Courtois will be made to wait for his debut.
According to Marca, the Belgian goalkeeper will take his spot on the bench for Sunday night’s La Liga opener against Getafe (12:00am kick-off UAE time) – with Keylor Navas, like he was in the UEFA Super Cup final, set to be preferred from the start.
Courtois has been catching up with much-needed preparation at the club’s Valdebebas training base following his official unveiling and was not among the substitutes in midweek in Estonia (although he did travel) as Casilla claimed the back-up keeping role.
For this weekend, Costa Rican stalwart Navas, who featured throughout pre-season, is said to be in better condition to start as the No1.
It remains to be seen just how long Navas will occupy the sticks for given Courtois was brought in as Real’s new first-choice shot-stopper.
The Whites face Getafe on Sunday night in their opener but following last week’s UEFA Super Cup final defeat to Atletico Madrid, there has been plenty of speculation the Spanish giants could seek emergency reinforcements before the transfer window slams shut on August 31.
“We’re convinced that we will be a great team this season and I love the squad and I’m happy with what we have,” Lopetegui said in his pre-match press conference.
“I think we will see a great Real Madrid and we are going to fight for all of the titles with the players we have.
“They have more talent and quality than people think and I wouldn’t doubt them.”
New coach Julen Lopetegui has stressed the need for a top team spirit but there will be no shortage of stars jostling for the vacancy.
Here, Press Association Sport casts its eye over five of the most likely candidates to replace the irreplaceable Portuguese playmaker.
The young striker has been with Real since 2014 and now is his chance to step up to the plate. Asensio is sharp and fleet-footed and has scored a number of noteable goals in the past. But the big question remains whether he can attain the required consistency to come close to stepping into Ronaldo’s shoes.
Bale’s stunning performance in the Champions League final was seen by some as a glorious send-off. But Bale is still at the Bernabeu and will be given his chance to shine by new boss Lopetegui. Freed from the constraints of feeding his illustrious number seven, the Welshman could be set to seize his chance.
The attacking midfielder certainly got himself in Lopetegui’s good books by returning early for the club’s pre-season tour of the United States. And the signs are that Lopetegui is set to resist the temptation to return to the transfer market and put his faith in the young star.
The 27-year-old has spent much of his Real Madrid career in the shadows but can expect to get his chance to shine in the new post-Ronaldo era. But if he wants to rise to top-billing he will have to score more than the single goal he managed during the entirety of Real’s victorious Champions League campaign.
The young Brazilian could be the next Galactico in waiting – but Real fans may have to be a little patient. Vinicius arrives with rave reviews from his time in his homeland and expressed his faith in Lopetegui – who is likely to gradually ease him into the first team in order to maximise his exciting potential.