As big a blow as the absence of Nemanja Matic undoubtedly is, Thibaut Courtois is confident Chelsea can cope without the midfield colossus.
The Serbian international has been a huge asset to the Blues since he rejoined the club last January, establishing himself as one of the first names on Jose Mourinho’s team-sheet. However, the 26-year-old will play no part in the League Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur next weekend, nor will he feature in the forthcoming Premier League matches at West Ham United and at home to Southampton.
Matic has been handed a three-match suspension after being sent off against Burnley on Saturday afternoon, in a match which the home side surprisingly dropped two points following a 1-1 draw. The midfield player was dismissed for his violent reaction to a tackle from Ashley Barnes, but as big a blow as this is, Courtois believes the Stamford Bridge side will cope with his absence.
“We have a difficult game next week and Nemanja Matic has been very good for us this season,” the impressive Belgian international goalkeeper told Chelsea TV. “It’s a pity he can’t play in the final, but of course we have other players who also need to do their job. We will still have a strong side, so I don’t think it will be a huge problem, although of course Nemanja will be missed.”
Mourinho was particularly upset with the tackle on Matic which led to the player reacting as he did, and the Portuguese coach also felt his side should have had two penalties against the Lancashire club. But it was the treatment of the former Benfica star which caused him the most angst, and he believed the challenge from Barnes was so bad it could have ended the career of the Serbian.
“This could be end of career,” Mourinho told Sky Sports Goals on Sunday. “Because I can’t find another adjective stronger, I just say this is end of career. Matic is a lucky guy. I can’t find the word to describe what that player did. I can clearly understand that football is about emotions and sometimes you lose emotions. Clearly Matic had a reason to lose his emotions. What could be the consequence of his push for the other player? Nothing. The consequence for Matic could be end of career.”