Goals win matches and attackers hog all the limelight in football. But ask any manager and he will tell you what a good man between the sticks brings to the team. Express takes a look at the top five goalkeepers in Russia.
KEYLOR NAVAS (COSTA RICA)
Costa Rica stunned everybody when they reached the quarterfinals in 2014, winning a group that had Uruguay, England and Italy. Navas was instrumental and his performance was such that Real Madrid came calling. He might not be the sweeper-keeper that managers want these days and is not capable of starting an attack from the back like Manuel Neuer. But the 31-year-old is a believer and even has a biopic on him called ‘Hombre de fe’ meaning ‘Man of Faith’. Winning three Champions League’s on the trot is not something everybody can boast of & Navas will once again be the talisman for the Los Ticos.
MANUEL NEUER (GERMANY)
He might not have featured for Bayern Munich since September last year. Nevertheless, Neuer was included in the 23-man squad of the defending champions. While his understudy and Barcelona’s first choice Marc-Andre Ter Stegen is equally talented, Joachim Low will prefer the veteran to start against Mexico in the opener. Four years back in Brazil, Neuer picked up the individual award for the best goalkeeper along with the trophy. He kept 4 clean sheets and let in 4 only goals. If he can keep himself fit, he will be a contender for the trophy again.
Kept 5 clean sheets in Roma’s run to the Champions League semifinals and will start for the Selecao despite Ederson’s sublime form for Manchester City helped them win the Premier League. Europe’s top clubs like Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid are looking to get the keeper who has an 80.1 per cent save success rate in Europe’s top 5 leagues this season — second to Atletico Madrid keeper Jan Oblak’s 85.8 per cent. If he can reproduce his club form in Russia, Alisson could be the first Brazilian to win the Golden Glove.
DAVID DE GEA (SPAIN)
Arguably the best in the world right now. The skinny boy who joined Manchester United in 2011 has transformed exceptionally and is one of the main factors behind the Red Devils finishing second in the Premier League this season. His spider-like reflexes and presence of mind makes him a worthy successor of the legendary Iker Casillas. In the qualifiers, De Gea conceded only three goals and kept six clean sheets in nine matches. Behind Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique, his ability will be key if Spain are to challenge for the Cup.
THIBAUT COURTOIS (BELGIUM)
When you have Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Vincent Kompany as defenders, the goalkeeper will rarely be called into action. But Thibaut Courtois can be trusted upon to deliver if such a situation arises. While the 26-year-old had a difficult season with Chelsea as they missed out on the top 4, Courtois finished the season with 15 clean sheets — three less than Premier League Golden Glove winner David de Gea. He never let the misfortunes of his club affect his performances for the country as he conceded only 3 goals on the road to Russia. Courtois could be crucial to Belgium’s hopes of at least matching their semi-final exit in 1986.