Atletico Madrid's Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. EPA
Atletico Madrid's Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. EPA

Who can handle the pressure?


author image

Atletico Madrid's Belgian stopper Thibaut Courtois, 21, is one of the two best young goalkeepers in the world. The other is Manchester United's 22-year-old David de Gea, the man Courtois replaced at Madrid.

Atletico are fortunate to have had Courtois on loan from Chelsea for so long - a top-class goalkeeper without a transfer fee. He is in his third season, though Chelsea have indicated that they want him back to replace Petr Cech for next season.

Spain boasts some of the planet's finest goalkeepers. There are Spaniards such as Iker Casillas, Victor Valdes, Pepe Reina and De Gea - and the imports, such as Courtois. Yet a year from now, the clubs where they play will look very different.

Valdes, 31, has made it clear that he wants a change after an entire career spent at Camp Nou. He said: "One year as Barcelona keeper is like three years at another team.

The pressure is immense."

Valdes has been honest enough to state his desire to move publicly, which did not go down well in the local media and has divided fans. His contract runs until next June, when he will be able to leave on a free transfer - making him hugely attractive to any buyers and making it hugely lucrative for Valdes.

Valdes says his decision is "irrevocable", yet Barcelona president Sandro Rossel will try to persuade the keeper to stay, pointing out the positives of being at Barca.

If not, Barca will look at the aforementioned names. Casillas? It could happen.

"Saint" Iker is the captain of Real Madrid and one of the most popular men in Spain. Even Barca fans respect him. Casillas lost his place in the Madrid side to Diego Lopez last December, with Jose Mourinho dropping him for "footballing reasons". Casillas, 32, said he believes it was because he helped smooth relations between Barca and Madrid players when Mourinho wanted to do the opposite.

Carlo Ancelotti, the new Madrid coach, has stuck with Lopez. Casillas is captain of his club and the world and European champions, yet he is not first choice for Madrid.

The situation has to change for all - and it will. Expect intrigue and surprises along the way.

sports@thenational.ae

World Cup final

Who: France v Croatia
When: Sunday, July 15, 7pm (UAE)
TV: Game will be shown live on BeIN Sports for viewers in the Mena region

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

‘White Elephant’

Director: Jesse V Johnson
Stars: Michael Rooker, Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Olga Kurylenko
Rating: 3/5

The biog

First Job: Abu Dhabi Department of Petroleum in 1974  
Current role: Chairperson of Al Maskari Holding since 2008
Career high: Regularly cited on Forbes list of 100 most powerful Arab Businesswomen
Achievement: Helped establish Al Maskari Medical Centre in 1969 in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region
Future plan: Will now concentrate on her charitable work

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

INDIA'S TOP INFLUENCERS

Bhuvan Bam
Instagram followers: 16.1 million
Bhuvan Bam is a 29-year-old comedian and actor from Delhi, who started out with YouTube channel, “BB Ki Vines” in 2015, which propelled the social media star into the limelight and made him sought-after among brands.
Kusha Kapila
Instagram followers: 3.1 million
Kusha Kapila is a fashion editor and actress, who has collaborated with brands including Google. She focuses on sharing light-hearted content and insights into her life as a rising celebrity.
Diipa Khosla
Instagram followers: 1.8 million
Diipa Khosla started out as a social media manager before branching out to become one of India's biggest fashion influencers, with collaborations including MAC Cosmetics.
Komal Pandey
Instagram followers: 1.8 million
Komal Pandey is a fashion influencer who has partnered with more than 100 brands, including Olay and smartphone brand Vivo India.
Nikhil Sharma
Instagram followers: 1.4 million
Nikhil Sharma from Mumbai began his online career through vlogs about his motorcycle trips. He has become a lifestyle influencer and has created his own clothing line.
Source: Hireinfluence, various

Kill Bill Volume 1

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Uma Thurman, David Carradine and Michael Madsen
Rating: 4.5/5

Blue Beetle

Director: Angel Manuel Soto
Stars: Xolo Mariduena, Adriana Barraza, Damian Alcazar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, George Lopez
Rating: 4/5 

Roll of honour 2019-2020

Dubai Rugby Sevens

Winners: Dubai Hurricanes

Runners up: Bahrain

 

West Asia Premiership

Winners: Bahrain

Runners up: UAE Premiership

 

UAE Premiership

Winners: Dubai Exiles

Runners up: Dubai Hurricanes

 

UAE Division One

Winners: Abu Dhabi Saracens

Runners up: Dubai Hurricanes II

 

UAE Division Two

Winners: Barrelhouse

Runners up: RAK Rugby

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.


Latest
Most Read
Top Videos