Ranking The Top 10 Goalkeepers Who Will Be At The 2014 World Cup
Identifying the Best Goalkeepers Who Will Be at the 2014 World Cup
There are now less than 100 days left before the 2014 World Cup will kick off in Brazil, and the soccer world is absolutely buzzing. After all, it is pretty difficult to beat 64 matches being played in just over one month by the best of the best in the world, and the cream of the crop tends to rise to the top at the World Cup to make the matches even more exciting than they are on paper. I for one would be fine to fast forward to the events in Brazil, and it isn't difficult to imagine that many others wouldn't mind this either.
Arguably the most crucial players that are going to be on the field during the World Cup will be each team's goalkeeper. While most people realize that their shot-stopping ability in open player makes a huge difference, the backstops also play a huge role in forming the shape of the team, distributing balls to the back four and up field, and thwarting out corner kicks, amongst many other duties. It's suffice to say, without a good goalkeeper, it is hard to be a great team and nearly impossible to win the World Cup.
Keeping the importance of goalies in mind, I have formed a list of the 10 best goalkeepers who will be playing at the 2014 World Cup. In order to avoid stacking up multiple goalies from one team and diluting the list, I have strictly selected those that will be starting in Brazil. From there, the goalies were weeded on in based on their club play, international form, and most of all, on the talent and leadership qualities that each displays.
10. Asmir Begovic
Asmir Begovic has turned into a well above average goalkeeper for Stoke City in recent years, as he is great in the air, puts himself in great position, and is consistent in his shot-stopping ability. In recent years, it is likely that Stoke could have been relegated if not for Begovic, and he will look to maintain this great influence for Bosnia and Herzegovina in Brazil. The 2014 World Cup will be the first major tournament ever for Bosnia, and they will need Begovic to come up big to get out of a group that includes Argentina, Nigeria and Iran.
9. Joe Hart
Manchester City and England goalkeeper Joe Hart has all the tools to be the best in the world, as he has good size at 6-foot-3, distributes the ball well, and has above average reflexes that are required to stop shots. Unfortunately, at times Hart loses concentration and then form, which has lost him his starting spot in Manchester at times. England will need Hart to be at his best in 2014, as the 26 year old may have to pull the nation through a tough group that includes Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica.
8. Thibaut Courtois
Thibaut Courtois is the best young goalkeeper in the world, and he has shown this for both Atletico Madrid and Belgium in recent seasons. Courtois is an absolute giant at 6-foot-6, has great ability to shot stops that are in front of him and to the side, and he is great at moving the ball out of the back. The 21 year old will likely have a breakout tournament in 2014, and should make it difficult for Atletico to bring him back for yet another loan spell from Chelsea in the Fall.
7. Fernando Muslera
Fernando Muslera is the starting goalkeeper for Galatasaray and Uruguay, and he has been a force for both in recent years. At 6-foot-3, he has good size for a goalie, which is aided by great reflexes, movement in the box, and ability to be well positioned to use great shot-stopping ability. In recent years, Muslera has played a big role in Uruguay, winning the 2011 Copa America and finishing fourth at both the 2010 World Cup and 2013 Confederations Cup. Expect him to come up big in Brazil.
6. Igor Akinfeev
Igor Akinfeev is the starting goalkeeper for CSKA Moscow and Russia, and is the rock that keeps each going steady. Akinfeev is willing to run through walls to get to open balls, has great lateral movements, and is the ultimate leader from the back. After allowing only five goals in 10 World Cup Qualifying Games and finishing on top of a group that included Portugal, it is clear that Akinfeev will have to continue his steady play for the Russians to succeed in Brazil.
5. Tim Howard
Everton and U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard is one of the most underrated goalkeepers in the world, and also one of the best. Howard has great size, the heart of a lion when going in to steal crosses, can lay out to block a shot like no other, and dictates the setup of his team by barking out orders that can be heard even to those at home. At 34 years old, it is likely that 2014 will be his last hurrah at the World Cup, and you can bet that Howard will help the U.S. surprise some people.
4. Gianluigi Buffon
If it seems like Juventus and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has been around for ever, it is because he has been. The 36 year old goalkeeper has all of the traits that anyone could want, as he has great mobility, aerial ability, and is the ultimate leader. Oh year, and won the 2006 World Cup and finished runner up at the 2012 Euro Championships. Expect Buffon to lead Italy on a deep run at what may be his last major international tournament.
3. Hugo Lloris
Tottenham and France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is a great modern goalkeeper, as he has the ability to serve as a sweeper on the back line. Lloris is almost like another field player on the field with his ability to distribute the ball out of the back, and he has the innate shot stopping ability and courage to fight and win for balls in the air that any goalkeeper wants. France will be looking to avenge back to back disappointing major tournament results in Brazil, and Lloris certainly will keep them in every game that is played.
2. Iker Casillas
Iker Casillas may have lost the No. 1 job with Real Madrid, but he is still the top dog with Spain and is one of the top goalkeepers in the world. Casillas truly has no weakness to his game, as his reflexes are top of the line, he is good in the air, is an above average penalty shot-stopper, and he has been the captain of Spain since 2006. While many will be enamored by Spain's ability to dictate possession in Brazil, don't overlook their stability at the back if they pull off a record fourth straight major tournament victory.
1. Manuel Neuer
Over the last few years, Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has developed into the best goalkeeper in the world, and everyone will see why in Brazil. Neuer is incredibly consistent blocking shots, has distribution skills that most outfield players would be proud of, and has the 6-foot-4 size to compete for balls in the box. Look for Neuer to be a major factor once Germany gets to the more difficult knockout stage games at the 2014 World Cup.