World Cup Power Ranks: Goalies
Courtois, Howard headline ranking of the top 10 goalies competing in Brazil
World Cup Power Ranks: Goalies | Defenders | Midfielders | Forwards
There are many moving parts that come into play when evaluating a goalkeeper, as success in the position relies heavily on the abilities of the 10 players sitting in front of him. A great goalkeeper more often than not is surrounded by a great team, which in turn protects him from having to deal with difficult situations. Meanwhile, a less reputable goalkeeper can be put in a situation in which he is forced to showcase all of his skills to help his team overachieve, in which case his ability to stop a higher volume of shots catches the eye of bigger clubs, thus advancing him to a team where his skills are not always completely on display.
The positional power ranks reflect this dichotomy, as the top goalkeepers in this summer's World Cup involve a mix of players who see various amounts of action for their clubs and their countries. Therefore, the goalkeepers in these power rankings reflect not only the statistical volume of shots faced, but also the player's degree of difficulty in the saves that he makes, along with intangibles such as organizing a defensive shape that can help with the ultimate objective of conceding as few goals as possible.
Based on World Cup qualifying and club performance from the 2013-14 season, here are my top 10 goalkeepers heading into the 2014 World Cup.
1. Thibault Courtois, Belgium (Club: Atletico Madrid)
Courtois recently added a La Liga title (and nearly a UEFA Champions League crown) to his résumé heading into the 2014 World Cup, and at 22 years old it appears that he will be one of the world's top goalkeepers for years to come. For Belgium, Courtois conceded just four goals in 10 games throughout World Cup qualifying. Further, he ranked second among goalkeepers with an 87.1 percent save percentage, and the 79 shots he faced in World Cup qualifying were also the most of any UEFA goalkeeper on a team that advanced to the World Cup.
Courtois' work for Belgium is especially impressive considering that 72 percent of the shots he faced came from inside the penalty area. And even though the goalkeeper ranked third in the Champions League with just 0.7 goals conceded per 90 minutes in the tournament, that is somewhat skewed by the fact that Courtois' Atletico Madrid teammates conceded 61 percent of total shot attempts from inside the team's penalty area.
To see Adrian Melville's complete ranking of the top 10 goalies competing at the World Cup, become an ESPN Insider.
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