This years World Cup was not all about stunning strikes, beautifully worked team goals, sublime skill and attacking talent, although it was packed with plenty of that. In Brazil this summer, we were fortunate enough to see some jaw dropping goalkeeping performances that ensured that even the goalless games were still hugely entertaining (who would have thought?). We were witness to a host of breathtaking stops, brave charges off the line, terrific distribution, fantastic organisation of the players in front of them, and, of course, heroic penalty saves that were celebrated wildly back in the keeper's home country.
Following this showcase of goalkeeping talent, a light has been cast on an often forgotten position, with everyone weighing in on who is the best between the posts. There is one keeper who tops the majority of lists, but the case for the remaining spots is still hotly debated months after the World Cup and well into the 2014/15 season. This season has produced plenty more fine goalkeeping performances around the world, with a few of the elder statesmen losing their starting spots to the up and coming stars, while a few crafty veterans remain difficult to dislodge.
Keeping a clean sheet is not an easy feat in the modern era, but keeping a clean sheet is only one aspect of what makes for a terrific goalkeeper. The number 1 should command his back four, have a strong presence and awareness for set pieces, be vocal, decisive, fearless, and, of course, have lightening quick reactions to pull off impressive saves against the likes of Ronaldo, Messi, Aguero and Ibrahimovic.
15 15. Joe Hart (Manchester City and England)
14 14. Tim Howard (Everton and USA)
13 13. Diego Lopez (AC Milan and Spain)
12 12. Salvatore Sirigu (PSG and Italy)
11 11. Victor Valdes (Free Agent and Spain)
10 10. Claudio Bravo (Barcelona and Chile)
9 9. Keylor Navas (Real Madrid and Costa Rica)
8 8. Iker Casillas (Real Madrid and Spain)
7 7. Petr Cech (Chelsea and Czech Republic)
6 6. David de Gea (Manchester United and Spain)
5 5. Samir Handanovic (Inter Milan and Slovenia)
4 4. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur and France)
3 3. Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus and Italy)
2 2. Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea and Belgium)
1 1. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich and Germany)
No surprises here, as Neuer can always be relied upon to put on brilliant, composed and assured performances whenever he steps onto the pitch for club and country. Utilised as a sweeper keeper, Neuer is heavily involved in the game as opposed to a bystander and does not appear frantic or nervous with the ball at his feet. He was a big part in helping Munich win the German title last season, as well as Germany’s dominant World Cup journey. Nominated for the 2014 FIFA Ballon d’Or, many feel that revolutionary Neuer could be the first keeper to take home the award since Lev Yashin in 1963.
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