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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Courtois: Real lack quality without Ozil

Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois believes Real Madrid “lack quality” following the sale of Mesut Ozil.

Lowe: On level ground
Hunter: Ruinous referees

Atletico visit the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in the league on Saturday evening looking for a repeat of May’s Copa del Rey final win over their local rivals.

The Rojiblancos have claimed six wins out of six in La Liga, trailing Barcelona on goal difference, and have a two-point advantage over Carlo Ancelotti’s men, who sit in third place; Courtois believes Real’s decision to sell Ozil to Arsenal on deadline day can help his side extend the gap.

Courtois, who had said earlier this week that Atletico knew how to beat Real, told AS: “Without him, Madrid lack quality in the game.

“Ozil had tremendous vision in playing the final pass between the lines and opening up the game, although it is true that they have others.”

He labelled Cristiano Ronaldo “a goal-scorer”, Gareth Bale as “very fast”, and said Karim Benzema is “strong and knows how to score goals”, while he described opposite number Diego Lopez as “a good ‘keeper who makes great saves”.

Atletico had famously gone 14 years without a victory over 'the eternal rival' prior to the cup success last season, and Courtois, who has been on loan from Chelsea since 2011, said: “When I arrived at Atleti, all the talk was about the years we had not won a ‘derbi’.

“Then came the cup final win, and that relieved the pressure in the sense that we no longer speak about everything that went on before. Obviously there is pressure, but not as much. With Madrid, you not only want to win the three points but also to defeat a rival.”

Should Atletico win on Saturday, it would represent the club’s best start to a season in their history.

“I have heard that, but records don’t win trophies,” the Belgium international said.

He also said it was “too early” to discuss a renewal with Chelsea, adding: “We’ll see when we’re in March or thereabouts.”

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