Soccer World Cup

2014 World Cup: Ranking The Top 5 Goaltenders

2014 World Cup: Ranking The Top 5 Goaltenders In The Tournament

World Cup Soccer Goal
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On the surface, the life of a goaltender can appear pretty simple. Yet ask any coach about the importance of a strong presence in net, and they’ll undoubtedly mention the duties a goalie has of not only stopping shots, but also keeping the defense organized. It's a safe bet that whichever team ultimately lifts the FIFA World Cup Trophy in victory will have a standout in goal. Here are the top five goaltenders entering this year’s World Cup.

5. Gianluigi Buffon, Italy

Gianluigi Buffon
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5. Gianluigi Buffon, Italy

Gianluigi Buffon
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Gianluigi Buffon enters this year’s World Cup having already made a stunning 139 appearances for Italy since first becoming the team’s starting goaltender in 1997. Now 36 years of age, Buffon has claimed nearly every award in Italy for goaltending prowess and has posted 390 career appearances for Serie A powerhouse Juventus since first joining the team in 2001.

4. Thibaut Courtois, Belgium

Thibault Courtois
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4. Thibaut Courtois, Belgium

Thibault Courtois
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Thibaut Courtois is coming off a breakout season with Atletico Madrid that has soccer analysts already ranking him amongst the best in the world. Standing 6-foot-6, Courtois’ combination of athleticism and steadiness led to 49 starts with the club and helped Atletico win their first La Liga title since 1995-1996. He’ll be counted on to anchor Belgium’s defense at the World Cup this summer.

3. Joe Hart, England

Joe Hart
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3. Joe Hart, England

Joe Hart
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Having helped Manchester City claim two English Premier League titles in the past three years, Joe Hart has established himself as one of the world’s elite goaltenders. The 27-year-old has already claimed three Premier League Golden Glove awards as the top netminder in England. Hart has also made 40 starts for England on the international stage since 2008.

2. Iker Casillas, Spain

Iker Casillas
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2. Iker Casillas, Spain

Iker Casillas
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Since his first appearance for Spain in 2000, Iker Casillas has established himself as one of the best goaltenders of his generation. With 153 career appearances for the national team, Casillas is currently one of the faces of Spanish soccer while racking up over 20 individual awards along the way. On the club side, Casillas recently helped Real Madrid claim their 10th European Cup title and has made 478 showings with the team since 1999.

1. Manuel Neuer, Germany

Manuel Neuer
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1. Manuel Neuer, Germany

Manuel Neuer
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Currently considered the best goaltender in the world by most experts, Manuel Neuer is on the way to building a legacy of dominance at both the club and national team levels. Just 28 years of age, Neuer has already claimed 13 individual awards in Germany for his abilities in the net and has become the top choice in goal for both Bayern Munich and the German National Team with a combined 140 starts for the two teams since 2009.