Real Madrid's Thibaut Courtois admits title race all but over after Clasico loss

Posted Monday, March 20, 2023 by ESPN

Thibaut Courtois admitted that Real Madrid's chances of winning LaLiga have all but disappeared after Barcelona's 2-1 El Clasico victory on Sunday left Madrid 12 points behind the league leaders.

Madrid went ahead early at Camp Nou thanks to Ronald Araujo's own goal. Sergi Roberto equalised before half-time, and -- as both teams pushed for a late winner -- Marco Asensio had a goal disallowed for offside before Franck Kessie scored in added time.

The result means Barca are top of the table on 68 points and on course for their first league title since 2019, with Madrid trailing on 56 points with 12 games left to play.

"Yes, we have to be honest," Courtois told Movistar, when asked if the title race was over. "We wanted to fight until the end, but now it's four games' difference... They'd have to lose four games, and we'd have to win all of them. Nothing is impossible, but it's very difficult."

Real Madrid's Thibaut Courtois admits title race all but over after Clasico loss

Substitute Asensio thought he'd kept Madrid's title hopes alive when he converted Dani Carvajal's pass in the 81st minute to put the visitors ahead, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR -- a decision questioned by coach Carlo Ancelotti.

"We deserved to win," Ancelotti told Movistar. "The game was won. Then we have doubts about the goal that was disallowed... Do you think it was offside? We have to accept it, but I have my doubts. Nothing is certain. We have the right to have doubts."

"I don't know, honestly," the Italian said, when pushed on the issue in his post-match news conference. "I thought offsides were quite clear at the World Cup, with [semi-automatic offside technology]. I have my doubts. It changed [the game]. Was it offside? I'm not sure. If the VAR is sure, great."

Madrid's attention will now turn to the Copa del Rey -- where they will return to Camp Nou to play Barca in their semifinal second leg on April 5 -- and the Champions League, where they will face Chelsea in the quarterfinals next month.

"We're sad, we're hurting, but we're proud of the game we played," Ancelotti said. "If we play like that for the rest of the season, we'll win something for sure."

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