A team will never win a FIFA World Cup without a reliable goalkeeper between the sticks and there were a number of outstanding performances at the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia.
Many top names made their way to Russia, but only a few stayed to their credentials. Besides the big guns, some of the lesser known faces too came good and put in some effortless shows.
Teams in the knockout stages saw some superb individual goalkeeping performances that were really catchy. Some moments defined glory as the goalies were solely responsible for keeping their sides afloat.
The likes of Hugo Lloris, Thiabut Cortouis, Jordan Pickford and Russia’s Igor Afinkeev stole the show after making some outstanding saves throughout.
Akinfeev pulled off arguably the most spectacular shootout save of the tournament, hooking Iago Aspas’ effort away with an outstretched leg. The technique captured the imagination instantly.
Certain players like Alisson Becker (Brazil) and Hugo Lloris (France) did not have much to do but came good when called upon.
Here we look at the three best goalkeepers at the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Thiabut Courtois – Belgium
Belgium’s Courtouis won the Golden Glove award for his overall impact in Russia. The Chelsea custodian made the most saves in the tournament (27). It wasn’t just the saves, but the impact of them that helped him bag the precious award.
His show against Brazil, in particular, was top notch. Also not to forget the semi-final match against France. Courtois made a total of 7 clearances and recovered 15 lost balls.
The former Atletico Madrid man, who is of huge interest for Real Madrid, looked commanding, confident and bold. The trustworthy custodian used his sizeable frame to good use on a number of occasions to fling himself across his goal.
The perceived notion that he is weak in dealing with balls driven down low to his sides was rubbished by the Chelsea stopper and he may have put himself in the market for any Champions League sides looking for a serious upgrade this summer.
Courtois made a brilliant tip-over from Neymar in the final minute of injury time in the quarter-final which is regarded as one of the the best saves of the tournament. He was consistently the best goalkeeper this summer and deservedly won the Golden Glove.
Jordan Pickford – England
Three Lions goalie Jordan Pickford’s performances came as a breath of fresh air in Russia this year. England have had issues with goalkeepers since a long time, but Pickford was another level.
He made his predecessor Joe Hart look ordinary with the quality he showed. The youngster has proven that England are in safe hands in years to come as far keeping is concerned.
The Everton man was deemed to be too small by a some pundits prior to the tournament. But he did not let anything criticism unfazed him as he let his football do the talking.
As the tournament progressed, Pickford too got better and better and grew in confidence. He pulled off the save of the tournament late on against Colombia off Mateus Uribe, as the ball seemed destined for the very top corner.
He then helped his side win their first World Cup penalty shootout with a vital save. The youngster also put in a heroic display against Sweden in the quarters, which was one of the best individual displays of the tournament. Even against Croatia, he denied the opponents running clear. Pickford made 17 saves and had 19 clearances to his name.
Danijel Subasic – Croatia
Danijel Subasic is one of the key ingredients that was missing from Croatia’s miserable 2014 World Cup campaign which saw them exit at the first stage itself. But this time they had their hero, who continuously bailed them in the knockouts.
Be it the penalty shootouts against Denmark and Russia or even the save from Harry Kane that could have potentially sealed an England win in regulation time.
Subasic was outstanding with his overall growth and range at this year’s tournament. Croatia need to thank Subasic for standing tall in crucial moments in the knockout stages that helped them book a place in the final. He also suffered a terrible calf injury against Russia, but still decided to carry on and won the game for his team.
The best moment came against Denmark, when he made 3 outstanding saves in the shootout. He tipped the first penalty from Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen onto the post. He then dived to his right to save an attempt from substitute Lasse Schone. Finally, he used his feet to block Nicolai Jorgensen’s attempt. He made a total of 15 saves in the tourney.