Current Position (Former)
1. (1) Iker Casillas (Real Madrid and Spain)
2. (4) Petr Cech (Chelsea and Czech Rep.)
3. (2) Gigi Buffon (Juventus and Italy)
4. (3) Edwin Van Der Sar (Man Utd)
5. (5) Pepe Reina (Liverpool and Spain)
6. (6) Shay Given (Man City and Ireland)
7. (9) Victor Valdes (Barcelona and Spain)
8. (8) Hugo Lloris (Lyon and France)
9. (10) Joe Hart (Man City and England)
10. (7) Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow and Russia)
Another month, another month of by and large confirming what we already knew. If that’s not a saying, then the Ministry Of Glove are doing our doing our best to bring it into more common usage. In our monthly look at the top goalkeepers in the world, we find that very little has changed.
Iker Casillas still tops the ranking and his appearance on the shortlist of nominees for the Ballon d’Or didn’t do his status much harm. Under Jose Mourinho, Real Madrid have wasted little time in developing that main characteristic of all the Special One’s teams – an excellent defence. Casillas has benefited from the improvement in the rearguard, but equally he’s still making those vital contributions to save his team-mates when they do suffer from the occasional lapse. He’s conceded just four times in eight La Liga games this term and in such an attack-minded league, that’s no mean feat. A couple of months into the season, he’s also notched up a sizeable collection of clean sheets. A continuation of that form could give Real the edge they need to overhaul Barcelona at the top of the standings.
Petr Cech is another to benefit from improved defending in front of him, but again, he’s not exactly sitting back and having a nap during games. He’s making crucial saves at crucial times and seems to have recaptured that sense of invincibility he exuded in the early stages of his time with Chelsea. He’s been beaten just twice in nine league games this season and should the Blues keep Blackburn at bay at the weekend, their goalie will have gone through the month of October without conceding. It’s an impressive record and anyone with an appreciation of the art of the custodian can’t help but enjoy the Czech’s renaissance.
Joe Hart continues to impress and moves upward, albeit with a caveat. His shot-stopping is top drawer, exemplified by an excellent penalty save from Cesc Fabregas in the recent game with Arsenal, but there have to be some doubts about his performance in one-on-one situations. Hart tends to hit the ground a fraction too early, again a habit visible on a couple of occasions in that same Arsenal game. Staying more upright for slightly longer would give him a better chance of coming out on top in these situations. He’s getting the benefit of the doubt in this case because it no matter how upright he was against the Gunners, it may have made little difference to the eventual outcome. It’s an issue with his technique that we’ll keep an eye on.
Igor Akinfeev moves in the opposite direction. Limited coverage of the Russian Premier League makes it tricky to fully track his progress and when we did get a proper look at him when Russia took on Ireland in a Euro 2012 qualifiers, he failed to impress. The visitors looked fantastic as they carved up the Irish, but he came away from the game with little credit. His handling was suspect, his tendency to punch rather than catch almost landed his team in trouble and his flustered performance did little to help his defenders when they needed him most. It may seem harsh to criticize so heavily after just one game, but there was something about the performance that suggested this was more akin to the norm rather than a rare blip. The fact that Sir Alex Ferguson has seemingly long since dropped his interest in favour of David de Gea tells us all we need to know.
Aside from those movers, there’s very little activity. There’s still no sign of Gigi Buffon making a return from the injury he picked up at the World Cup so it’s harsh to penalise him to any real extent. Hugo Lloris is suffering a torrid time with a struggling Lyon, but by and large he avoids much of the blame for the problems. Edwin van der Sar dropped a costly clanger towards the start of the month, but as we’ve outlined before, that looks to be a rare lapse and not a sign of his imminent demise.