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Feud between Thibaut Courtois and Simon Mignolet threatens to derail Belgium’s World Cup

Feb 20, 2014, 8:38 AM EDT

Thibaut, Aritz Aduriz AP

At this point naming Belgium as your dark-horse favorite to win the 2014 World Cup is hardly a daring prediction. Deeply talented, fit, young and in fantastic form, Diables Rouges are heading into Brazil with momentum.

There is, however, an emerging feud between goalkeepers Thibaut Courtois and Simon Mignolet that could threaten to derail the Belgian train from its track.

Courtois, who is currently on loan at Atletico Madrid from Chelsea for a third successive season, wants Liverpool’s Mignolet to show him more respect. In an interview with Sport/Foot MagazineCourtois claimed that Mignolet instigated a “personal attack” on him by questioning Belgium head coach Marc Wilmots’ as to why he was dropped.

“When someone says he’s been unfairly dropped as Belgium’s No.1 keeper I see it as a personal attack on me,” Courtois said.

“It shows you don’t accept your manager’s calls – and you have no respect for the first choice. He needs to show respect for whoever is currently in that role.”

Mignolet made the comments following his being handed the gloves in Belgium’s two most recent matches, defeats to Colombia and Japan. Courtois’ reaction to Mignolet’s disgust came swiftly and it wasn’t the first time the Atletico man went on the offensive. Earlier this month Courtois noted his disgust at not being backed by Mignolet.

“In Spain, I hear no goalkeeper saying they’re aiming for the place of Casillas,” he said. “Not De Gea, not Valdes, not Reina. It’s the opposite – they back Casillas. Simon can say whatever he wants, but I think I’ve already saved enough points for Belgium and I’m playing good games for Atletico. He has to stay humble and respectful.”

Both players have  earned 14 caps for their country. In 23 La Liga matches this season Courtois has 42 saves, 12 clean sheets, conceding a league best 16 goals. For Liverpool this season, Mignolet has made 26 appearances in the league racking up 82 saves and 7 clean sheets while conceding 32 times.

  1. dfstell - Feb 20, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    It’s tough to be a #2 keeper because #2 might as well not be on the team for as much as they play sometimes. It leads to tension, especially around something like the World Cup where it only happens every 4 years.

    I wish FIFA would change the rules for goalkeeper substitutions. Don’t have them count against the 3 regular substitutions and allow a goalkeeper to be reinserted into the game. That way, #2 keepers could get 20 minutes at the end of the game. It would give them experience, lessen tension, make it more likely that concussed keepers are properly checked out….

    I can’t imagine anyone but a total purist having a big problem with such a rule change. Put some little restrictions like not allow a team to bring someone on just to face a penalty and I can’t see how the system would be abused.

  2. jrocknstuff - Feb 20, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    Courtois is hands down the better keeper. He’s top 5 in the world right now. Mignolet has no argument to be the #1. And Courtois is right, you don’t hear Guzan making waves playing behind Howard. When Guzan is called upon he plays, and he plays well. Mignolet could learn a thing or two.

  3. tarotsujimoto74 - Feb 20, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    Courtois is arguably the best in the world right now, mignolet should shut it.

    • bear06 - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:39 AM

      No, Neuer is arguably the best in the world but Courtois is a top 5 GK in the world.

  4. tarotsujimoto74 - Feb 20, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    Are there a large amount of upset Liverpool supporters that read this site or something?

  5. thedeadlockvictim - Feb 21, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    Good thing they don’t have to work together during matches.

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