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Courtois Excluded from Belgium's Euro Squad Amidst Ongoing Tension with Coach

Posted : 11 June 2024

Many questioned whether Thibaut Courtois would start in the Champions League final. Real Madrid's Belgian goalkeeper suffered a knee ligament tear at the beginning of the season, sidelining him for much of the year. He only returned five matches before the end of the season. In his absence, the surprising Andrey Lunin stepped in and helped Real Madrid advance in Europe.


 However, Courtois, passionate about his position, was trusted by Carlo Ancelotti, and just like two years ago, he excelled in the final, leading the team to victory. Despite his club success, Courtois won't be representing Belgium in the Euros.


This became official on May 28 with the release of Belgium's final squad for the European Championship. Coach Domenico Tedesco decided to exclude Courtois, who had a falling out with him. Instead, Koen Casteels, the 32-year-old Wolfsburg goalkeeper with only ten international appearances, will take his place.


 This decision doesn't inspire much confidence in Belgium's already shaky defense, which also relies on the 37-year-old Jan Vertonghen. Although Belgium should progress from a relatively easy group with Slovakia and Romania, Ukraine remains a threat, and missing Courtois, one of the world's best goalkeepers, diminishes their chances.


The tension began during the Euro qualifiers in June 2023, when captain Kevin de Bruyne was injured. Tedesco chose Romelu Lukaku as captain for the first match and planned to give Courtois the armband for the second.


After Lukaku captained the team in a 1-1 draw against Austria, Courtois, feeling he deserved the honor, left the national team camp before the next game against Estonia and hasn’t returned since. Courtois later announced he wouldn't play in the Euros, expressing his disappointment with the coach's decision, which he felt undervalued him.


Tedesco responded by asserting that Courtois wasn’t a true leader and quickly confirmed that Courtois wouldn’t be fit for the Euros, setting the stage for his exclusion. Despite Courtois' successful return to club football, Tedesco reminded everyone that Courtois had already opted out of the tournament.


De Bruyne, trying to stay neutral, emphasized focusing on the current squad, though he shares a strained relationship with Courtois due to personal issues from years ago.


Belgium, nonetheless, is working to resolve internal conflicts revealed during their World Cup failure. Michy Batshuayi, who clashed with Lukaku, was not selected, and Eden Hazard, a challenging figure, has retired. With a younger squad, the generational friction that previously caused issues is diminishing.


Success will largely hinge on De Bruyne, who is healthier and fitter this season, and Romelu Lukaku, who consistently performs for the national team. With promising talents like Jeremy Doku and Leandro Trossard, Belgium hopes to overcome its self-destructive tendencies and make the most of this golden generation's potential.


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