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Soccer World Cup

Ranking the Top 15 Goalkeepers of the 2014 World Cup

Ranking the Top 15 Goalkeepers of the 2014 World Cup

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Goalkeepers have perhaps the most difficult and stressful role on the team. A forward can miss nine out of ten chances but be celebrated for the one chance he scores. A goalkeeper can have spectacular saves on nine out of ten shots, but one mistake and he's become the villain. The pressure and stakes will be high during the World Cup, but these 15 goalkeepers have what it takes to shine.

15. Julio Cesar - Brazil

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Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

15. Julio Cesar - Brazil

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Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Two years ago, the Brazilian keeper was in the conversation for best goalkeeper in the world. Today, he plays in the MLS after failing to impress at Q.P.R. Though he hasn't aged quite as well as some would like, he's still Brazil's first choice. Keep an eye out for Cesar during the World Cup, who will either return to old glory or show he's past his prime.

14. Asmir Begovic - Bosnia and Herzegovina

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14. Asmir Begovic - Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Unless you're a follower of Bosnia and Herzegovina or Stoke City, you're probably not familiar with Asmir Begovic. The 26-year-old Bosnian goalkeeper is one of the Premier League's best, and most underrated, goalkeepers. He was selected as Stoke City's Player of the Year in 2013, and he'll want to put in a similar performance for Bosnia and Herzegovina as they seek to advance to the knockout stages.

13. Iker Casillas - Spain

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13. Iker Casillas - Spain

iker casillas spain
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Much like Julio Cesar, Iker Casillas was known as a world-class goalkeeper for many years. However, in a post-Mourinho Real Madrid, he's now sitting on the bench in favor of Diego Lopez. Despite this, he remains Spain's first option between the posts and has proved during the Champions League that his reflexes and leadership are still quite good.

12. Diego Benaglio - Switzerland

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12. Diego Benaglio - Switzerland

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Diego Benaglio isn't exactly a household name, but the Swiss Wall is one goalkeeper to keep an eye on during the World Cup. Switzerland had one of the best defenses during qualifiers, and that's in huge part due to Benaglio's athleticism and ability. He had amazing saves last World Cup against Spain, Honduras and Chile and will surely replicate that performance.

11. Claudio Bravo - Chile

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11. Claudio Bravo - Chile

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It's rare to find a goalkeeper who can play as well with his feet as he can with his hands, but Claudio Bravo is that goalkeeper. The Chilean captain fits perfectly in the pass-heavy system of Chile, and his reflexes and positioning aren't bad either. He'll be looking to prove why FC Barcelona is asking for his price.

10. Salvatore Sirigu - Italy

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10. Salvatore Sirigu - Italy

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Italy has a long, storied tradition of producing world-class goalkeepers, and Salvatore Sirigu keeps with that tradition. For years now, he's shown his class and ability at Palermo and at PSG. Unfortunately for him, he'll be behind Gianluigi Buffon in the pecking order. But if Buffon goes down with injury, Italy has an amazing back-up in Sirigu.

9. Guillermo Ochoa - Mexico

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9. Guillermo Ochoa - Mexico

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World Cups must be a sour topic for Guillermo Ochoa. He has undeservedly been benched for two World Cups, but if new coach Miguel Herrera has a brain, he'll make sure Ochoa starts this time around. His club level at AC Ajaccio has led him to being celebrated as one of the best goalies in France, and he has even been linked to giants like AC Milan.

8. Igor Akinfeev - Russia

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8. Igor Akinfeev - Russia

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After a disappointing spell filled with injuries and poor form, Igor Akinfeev has returned to his old self just in time for the 2014 World Cup. The CSKA Moscow goalkeeper has loads of experience for both club and country and has shown that he's got the reflexes, mind and athleticism to be considered one of the best in the world.

7. GIanluigi Buffon - Italy

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7. Gianluigi Buffon - Italy

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36-year-old Gianluigi Buffon has been called up to his fifth World Cup, and luckily for Italy, he's only aged liked a fine wine. Though his athleticism has waned, his decision-making, leadership and even reflexes have all remained excellent. It takes a lot to bench a goalie like Salvatore Sirigu, but Buffon is that good.

6. Joe Hart - England

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6. Joe Hart - England

joe hart england
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

After an extremely rocky start to his 2013-14 season, English international Joe Hart has returned to his old self and is the undisputed English first-choice goalkeeper. His reflexes are some of the best in the world, and his experience from past failures will surely help him recover his image at the World Cup.

5. Tim Howard - USA

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5. Tim Howard - USA

tim howard usa
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Howard is, by far, the most underrated goalkeeper in the world. Whenever Howard puts on the Stars and Stripes, he responds by playing at the highest level, putting his extraordinary reflexes, amazing leadership and safe hands on show for the world. Considering the difficult group, the USMNT will have to rely heavily on Tim Howard.

4. David de Gea - Spain

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4. David de Gea - Spain

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Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea has proved that he is one of the best up-and-coming goalkeepers in the world. Unfortunately for him, he will undeservedly have to ride the bench in favor of the more experienced Iker Casillas. Although Vicente del Bosque might favor the experience, make no doubt about it: David de Gea is the future of Spain. His height, reflexes and athleticism make him one of the best.

3. Hugo Lloris - France

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3. Hugo Lloris - France

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After some initial criticism to his arrival, French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has proved that he's grown to be one of the Premier League's best. France's recent success and domination at the international level is also a product of the French goalkeeper's ability. His cat-like reflexes, secure handling and sound decision-making will make France an extremely difficult opponent to beat.

2. Thibaut Courtois - Belgium

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2. Thibaut Courtois - Belgium

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Atletico Madrid's Cinderella story season wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the heroics of Thibaut Courtois. The 6-foot-6 giant has shown that he belongs in the discussion of best in the world, as he's become a headache for La Liga superstars Lio Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. He will be hoping to lead an extremely talented Belgium squad this year. The scariest statistic? He's only 22.

1. Manuel Neuer - Germany

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1. Manuel Neuer - Germany

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Manuel Neuer is quite simply the best goalkeeper in the world. Bayern Munich have been dominating club soccer for the past couple of years, and their defense has become a lock thanks to Neuer. He's not the flashiest goalkeeper, but in watching him for 90 minutes, you can truly appreciate his positioning, leadership, athleticism, technique, intelligence and communication on the field. He will hoping to have clean sheets throughout the tournament.