greatest goalkeepers in the world!

casillas had a fantastic world cup and is considered the world's best goalkeeper.

who would have thought?

spaniards are the world champions, very true. mostly their midfielders are the best in the world. but when you look at global goalkeeping, it might come as a surprise to some that five out of the fifteen best goalies were born in iberian territory. which is frustrating for anyone who is not iker casillas, the nationl team’s number one for almost a decade, and still not in his thirties. pepe reina, liverpool’s goalie, and victor valdez, from fc barcelona, have the bad luck of having the same age and practically no chance to become number one. diego lópez, who defends villarreal fc, could make the same claim; he is rated the 13th best goalkeeper in the world, but probably won’t even be in the spanish squad for euro 2002. there is more hope for atletico madrid’s david gea, the young europa league champion. he’s still 20, might have a shot for the euro 2002 squad and, who knows, a spot in the spanish national team as number one after the 2014 world cup, if spain defends their title.

no chance for lloris here, against south africa.

the italians have kind of a crisis. in the 90s, they had three or four world class goalkeepers, and buffon was just one of them. now, he’s the only one, but he hasn’t played this season yet, due to his world cup injury. french keepers are on a high. it used to be barthez and coupet, now there are three keepers within the top 12: hugo lloris from olympique lyon, 24 years old and the current number one; sébastien frey, 30 years old but still great for fiorentina; and steve mandanda, long-time olympique marseille coach, but still only 25 (a pretty young age for a goalie). one might also mention cédric carasso, bordeaux’s very good goalkeeper, who is also part of the world’s top twenty.

julio cesar and his decisve mistake against the netherlands...

brazil had never been famous for their goalkeepers; they used to have one or the other, but now, they have three top keepers: julio cesar, arguably the best goalkeeper in the world (he kind of lost this title to casillas, though), won the champions league for internazionale after fantastic matches against chelsea and barcelona. gomes, tottenham’s gk, was voted best goalkeeper in the premier league. and diego alves, playing for spanish side almeria. the 25 year old goalie made a name for himself playing for atletico mineiro in his native brazil, and milan has been interested in his services.

neuer was great at the world cup and has had a fantastic semester for schalke.

germany has a great tradition in goalkeeping: from sepp maier over toni schumacher to oliver kahn and jens lehmann, all of these have been considered top; and this without mentioning bodo illgner, who won the world cup for germany and the champions league for real madrid. currently, there are quite a few young keepers in the path of a great career. manuel neuer is the top name; he’s been at schalke 04 since he was 4, but it seems that his next career step will take place this summer. manchester united and bayern munich seem the most likely choices. rene adler would have been germany’s number one if he hadn’t injured himself a few weeks before the world cup. he is germany’s second top ten goalkeeper; tim wiese, from werder bremen, is already 29, but still considered to be amongst the greatest 20 in the world.

best performance for a goalie at the world cup: diego benaglio against spain

other goalkeepers worth mentioning here are petr cech, still very valuable for chelsea; igor afinkeev, for me still a candidate for the title of greatest goalkeeper, at some point in the future; diego benaglio, the great swiss goalkeeper who rose to fame in this year’s world cup; the american tim howard, who does a very solid job at everton; samir handanovic, still playing for udinese and slovenia, but a candidate for a much bigger european club; and maarten stekelenburg, trying to follow into the footsteps of his great idol, erwin van der saar (who is playing his very last season for manchester united).

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bayern münchen – the future can come!

 

another five years for schweinsteiger and bayern. great news for all bayern fans!

after the 3×0 win over st.pauli, this afternoon, bastian schweinsteiger took the microphone and announced to the fans that he just prolonged his contract for another five seasons. that was, by far, the greatest applause of the afternoon.

with phillipp lahm and bastian schweinsteiger, both players owned by bayern munich since their teens, two key players have not only declared their loyalty and love towards their home club. it is also a signal to europe: bayern munich wants to be not only a top team in europe, but the top team in europe. lahm could’ve gone to fc barcelona, schweinsteiger to chelsea or real madrid. but they decided to stay and be part of a team capable of reaching uefa champions league semifinals every single year. that’s their main motivation for not leaving the club.

and i believe they might be right. let’s look at what the future european champion might look like:

 

he wants to win the champions league too... better go to bayern, manuel neuer!

goalkeeping: manuel neuer seems to have agreed to move to munich for next season. neuer deserves a post for himself, he is most certainly the coming best goalkeeper of the world. number one in germany since rene adler’s injury and robert enke’s suicide, he’s had spectacular games and basically no mistakes, mostly against bayern last week. butt will probably move to management, talented number two keeper thomas kraft will probably leave the club, so bayern has to find a good number two.

central defending: he’s still being criticized, by i firmly believe that breno will make the race to become holger badstuber’s partner on the right side of the defense. badstuber, like schweinsteiger and lahm, plays for bayern since the junior team and will be a fixing point in central defense. breno, at bayern since the age of 18, is currently being tested and might just pass – i surely hope he does, since he has great quality, but needs to be more firm. daniel van buyten and martin demichelis are history, the latter might even leave the club in the winter. so new signings are needed, probably two.

 

just like schweinsteiger, lahm has a contract from 2016.

defensive wings: there is probably no right back in the world better than phillipp lahm, and he has another advantage: the captain of the german national team is never injured and always plays the full 90 minutes in very match. it could be a big blow for bayern if he is ever injured, since there would be no one to actually replace him;  new signing is needed there, someone young and who can play both in central defense and right back, ideally. the left side has been the problem since lahm moved to the right, but this season there are actually two players doing a great job there: daniel pranjic, brought by van gaal from holland, and diego contento, from the bayern junior team. no problems there, for the future (which should belong to contento).

defensive midfield: van bommel, the captain, and bastian schweinsteiger, the true captain, had a very successful season in 2009/10 on this position. but things have changed. schweinsteiger has been so effective that van gaal put him one position forward, and toni kroos has been playing in his place now. which i think is a great decision, mostly for kroos, who’s talent really florishes from that important position. van bommel, for me, is history and probably won’t get a new contract; anatoliy tymoshchuk should take over for van bommel, but maybe schweinsteiger will come back and become make up a german duo with kroos – who, yes, you guessed is, has been owned by bayern since his junior team days. daniel pranjic and andreas ottl are good options for the bench, so no real need for new signings.

 

ribéry has contract until 2015... and is getting back to top form!

offensive midfield: franck ribéry also has a 5-year contract, and he’s a star and starter on the left side. arjen robben has been injured all of this season, but was the player of the last season and will be a star and starter on the right side. schweinsteiger is playing in the middle, but if he ever moves back to his preferred position, thomas müller should take over that role – and he really can, another great talent, and, yes, at bayern since he was 11. altintop has shown to be a valuable player, but it is not known if he will get his contract renewed. toni kroos is actually an offensive player and could play any position, too. if another talent (maybe from the junior team) is added, that should be enough; mehmet ekici, currently on loan at nürnberg, would be a candidate for that. ivica olic can also play on the left wing.

attack: mario gomez. i’ve always had faith in him and he has been showing his importance for the team. he’s got another good 4 to 6 years in front of him, so he’s the number one; currently, klose is at bayern, but if he doesn’t want to be a bench player, he’ll have to leave. ivica olic is a great option, thomas müller can play the position, too. so bayern only needs replacement if klose leaves, and that replacement could come from the amateur team. let’s see.

this team could be a future european powerhouse, comparable to barcelona, real, and manchester:

neuer – lahm, breno, badstuber, contento – kroos, schweinsteiger – ribéry, müller, robben – gomez

with tymoshchuk, pranjic and olic really close to the first team.

to end this post, bastian schweinsteiger’s answer to the question why he didn’t want to go to real madrid:

[to the reporter] “let me ask you a question: for whom do you think i’d like to win the champions league, for madrid or here? this is my home, winning that title with this club would mean infinetely more to me.”

this is why bayern will have the strength to become great in europe again: players identify with the club because they just feel well there (robben, ribéry) or because they’ve played their since their teens (lahm, badstuber, breno, contento, kroos, schweinsteiger, müller).

Published in: on December 11, 2010 at 18:10  Comments (3)  
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the beginning of an era for bayern munich

in 1988, i became a bayern munich supporter. I already liked to play football, but i didn’t really follow the sport – there was no such culture in my family. actually, I don’t really know how i came to fall in love with the game, playing it. but i do remember when I started watching it. the euro 88 was held In germany, where I had been living for three years. I followed the national team closely, and i still remember the first game against italy, with andreas brehme’s goal to tie it up, 1×1. i still remember the 2×0 victory over denmark, with olaf thon scoring the decisive second goal with his head – being the shortest man on the team. the semifinal loss against the netherlands, with the classical matchup kohler against van basten went to the dutch attacker and best player in the world of his time. van basten scored two minutes from time, and germany, who had lead by a matthäus penalty, was out.

and i was in. since that tournament, i remember almost all of germany’s matches in euros and world cups. and i became a bayern-fan under the influence of my best childhood friend, who oddly enough lived not too far away from  dortmund – and i grew up close to hamburg.

the past of bayern: mehmet scholl

bayern had painfully lost the 1987 european cup final to porto, their second defeat in a final, in the decade. at the time, of course, only champions participated in the champions cup, and bayern represented germany pretty frequently in the 80s, mostly reaching the semifinals. my first favorite player was andreas brehme, who played for bayern at the time. after he left for inter milan, olaf thon was my number one; and then, with the arrival of mehmet scholl, he became my favorite player for over a decade. bayern always had pretty good teams and did win the bundesliga quite a few times in these 22 full seasons of being a fan. but there was really never on as good as the current team.

after scholl ended his exciting and somewhat tragic career, i kept looking for a new favorite player. i finally made my decision in the preseason before 2009/10. a young attacker i was following in bayern’s second team had been offered a pro contract; he’d been at the club since he was a young teenager, and the had a certain style to his play that i liked. before the first game of the season, i bought a jersey with the number 25, from the up to then unknown thomas müller. and what a run he has had.

the future of bayern: müller & badstuber...

müller is an important piece of the current team. he represents bayerns strengths quite well: confident without being cocky, intense, willing to play for the team (including defensively), ready to risk – and pretty successful, to say the least. when i first put on my jersey in august 2009, i couldn’t have imagined that he would become the world cup top scorer in south africa, and probably the most exciting german player in an exciting german team.

the question is, though: were should müller play? with his stamina and creativity, the winger postions seem to suit him well – but bayern has maybe the best wingers in the world: arjen robben at the right and franck ribéry at the left! so the middle then, right behind the attack? bayern has toni kroos, only 20 and probably even more talented than müller, technically. he seems like the more typical “10” player. so maybe into the center of the attack? well, besides bayern having players like miroslav klose, mario gomez and ivica olic there, it would seem a waste of creativity and good ideas to let müller play upfront. which basically means that bayern have a very strong offensive game, with great players sitting on the bench and able to bring quality into the game, if they have to. even hamit altintop, a hero in the turkish national team, can’t get a starting spot.

... breno...

so what about the defensive part? it starts in the attack, with olic and/or klose working extremely well to help the defense, and even ribéry / robben doing much more than they would be used to doing in previous clubs. this is how a total domination of a club like as roma was even made possible on wednesday – francesco totti wouldn’t help his defense at all. this really helps the two world class defensive midfielders schweinsteiger and van bommel to be in total control in almost every match. both of them give quality to the attacking game, and are close enough to the opponents to get into the man-to-man fights and win them: a near-to-perfect symbiosis between technical skills, strategic abilities and physical skills. this strong system will help the younger members of the four-man defensive line to grow over the years. holger badstuber has finally moved into “his” center back position, leaving the bench place to argentinian international martin demichelis. daniel van buyten could play out this season as the boss in the back, but i would love to see talented breno playing in that position and growing into it alongside badstuber – a duo for the future. another future talent has been at bayern since he was five: diego contento has gained coach louis van gaal’s trust and will be given time to grow into his left back position, to find the right balance between defensive work and positioning, and attacking skills. contento has it all: a classy technique, physical strength, speed and creativity. he is still lacking courage and total acceptance within the team, but that is only natural – since he, too, is only 19. on the other side, you have german captain philipp lahm, only 26 but already extremely experienced. he decided to stay at bayern instead of moving to barcelona, and the champions league title is all he really cares about. finally, we have jörg butt in the goal. he went from being an experienced number 2 to help michael rensings development to a world cup squad member last summer – his performances have been better than ever. but his career is coming to an end, and bayern is looking for a new keeper for 2011. manuel neuer (schalke) is the clear cut favorite, but a lloris (from lyon) or even an adler (leverkusen) could be options, too. all of these are young, and a new era seems to have started, with bayern reaching the champions league final in 2010.

... and toni kroos!

for 2011, this would be my dream team (with their respective ages):

neuer (then 25) – contento (20), badstuber (21), breno (20), lahm (27) – schweinsteiger (26), kroos (21), ribéry (28), robben (27), müller (21) – gomez (25)

this team could play for quite a few years…

Published in: on September 19, 2010 at 13:03  Leave a Comment  
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