18 August 2014 20:02
Jose Mourinho has selected Thibaut Courtois for Chelsea’s Premier League opener against Burnley, leaving Petr Cech on the bench.
The battle between Courtois, 22, and Cech, 32, to become Mourinho’s established first choice in goal has dominated many pre-season headlines out of Stamford Bridge.
And the Belgium shot-stopper looks to have usurped Chelsea’s Premier League and UEFA Champions League-winning keeper after being named in Monday’s XI to take on the newly promoted Lancastrians at Turf Moor.
The decision immediately throws Cech’s Chelsea future into doubt, with Mourinho admitting before the weekend that the man not selected would likely look elsewhere for a first-team spot.
And in an interview pre-match, Mourinho stressed the need to look to the future was key to his decision.
He told Sky Sports. “Obviously Petr is an amazing goalkeeper but the difference between them is 10 years and we have to think about the future of the club and to give the goal to Courtois.
“But I repeat – I’m so comfortable and feeling so safe by having these two goalkeepers with us. To have these two top-level goalkeepers is a fantastic situation us.”
Mourinho went on to hint at his desire to keep Cech in his squad and backed him to provide a strong response to being benched.
“I hope – and am sure that it is going to happen – he will fight for his place, that he will not sit in a comfortable chair and accept the number-two position,” Mourinho added.
“That’s what I don’t hope for and I don’t expect from him because he is a winner and will fight for his place.”
After spending three years on loan at Atletico Madrid and contributing to last season’s historic Liga title win, Courtois finally makes his competitive debut for Chelsea, and seemingly ushers in a new era in goal for the club.
Cech was signed by Chelsea in 2004 and immediately shunted Carlo Cudicini out of the first-team picture – Mourinho’s decision to replace the established number one has been curiously mirrored a decade later and the symbolism was not lost on the Portuguese.
Ten years of sterling service has seen Cech win three Premier League medals, four FA Cups, two League Cups and the 2013 UEFA Europa League.
However, his greatest hour came in the 2012 Champions League final against Bayern Munich in the Germans’ Allianz Arena home.
Cech routinely stopped Bayern before saving an Arjen Robben penalty in extra time and denying Ivica Olic and Bastian Schweinsteiger in the ensuing shootout, allowing Didier Drogba to seal a memorable triumph.