Kepa Returns to Goal as Real Madrid Prepares for Betis Clash

Real Madrid visits Betis this Saturday at the Benito Villamarín with a confirmed novelty: Kepa returns to goal after the muscle tear that kept him away from it against Braga, Valencia, Cádiz and Naples. Against Granada he was already available, but Ancelotti decided to keep him on the bench to give Lunin one more match with which to reward his good work in the absence of the Basque, but against Betis the experiment ended: Kepa will once again be the team’s starting goalkeeper. Real Madrid, because it has never stopped being so.

Lunin played the first two days of the League after Courtois’ serious injury and before the lightning arrival of Kepa, on loan from Chelsea when his signing for Bayern was already a practical reality. As little as he could, Carletto gave the goal to the Basque, but he needed to pull the Ukrainian again when Kepa was injured during the warm-up prior to Madrid-Braga in the Champions League and Lunin has complied with note: in total this season he has played 630 minutes in seven games, of which they have won all with only four goals conceded and four clean sheets.

From Juan Martínez, Manuel

Kepa, for his part, 1,170 minutes in 13 games, of which he has won ten, conceding ten goals and leaving the goal unmarked on six occasions. The Basque’s numbers are lower than Lunin’s, but in any case good, although the main doubts he has raised have arisen in the aerial balls, in which even Ancelotti recognized his difficulties: “Each player has his characteristics, I believe That Kepa is formidable between the sticks and obviously suffers a bit in aerial balls, this is quite normal. He is not six feet tall, no one is perfect. Neither do I, because I’m very handsome,” Carletto joked to reduce tension after the narrow victory in Naples (2-3), in which Kepa’s indecision overlooked cost a goal and generated debate.

Lunin and Kepa’s numbers

That debate was fueled in the match against Braga, in which Lunin rushed in to leave the goal at zero and, in the process, stop a penalty against Djaló that reinforced his candidacy. But as soon as the match ended, Ancelotti was blunt: “If Kepa is available, Kepa is going to play.” He was so shocked by such a strict sentence in a man with a calm profile like Carletto that even he thought about it himself and against Granada, despite the fact that Kepa was already available, he preferred to give Lunin one more match. The Ukrainian is in the last year of his contract and in the summer he was told that he did not count and that he had to find a team, at the same time that Madrid negotiated with David Soria to play his role as Courtois’ substitute. But Lunin clung to his contract and tried to demonstrate in the opportunities he had that he had the level to continue at Real Madrid.

And in his games so far this year, he has undoubtedly done so: he has stopped 20 of the 24 shots that have been taken against him between the sticks, 83%, with six balls caught in 630 minutes. They are two more than Kepa in 1,170′, although the Basque’s save percentage is close to that of the Ukrainian (76%, 31 saves in 41 shots), having been exposed for more time. Be that as it may, the debate may be on the street, but it is not on Ancelotti’s mind: Kepa is his starter and this Saturday, against Betis, he will once again regain the place that belongs to him.

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2023-12-08 11:09:21
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