Christmas means it’s hibernation in most of the European leagues except for the never-resting Premiership, but it also means it’s time for The Top & The Best lists. Here at Sportige we sat down and decided to choose the Top 5 players in soccer today in several positions, beginning today with those guys in weird-colored shirts, the best goalkeepers in the world entering 2010.
Number 5 – Jose Manuel Reina, Liverpool & Spain
Being the son of a famous goalkeeper, Miguel Reina, who played for Barcelona and Atletico Madrid between 1966-1980, Pepe Reina probably didn’t have much of a choice in regards to his future profession. Despite being born in Madrid and being an avid Atletico fan, Reina began his youth and professional career with Barcelona, racking up 30 appearances for this first team between 2000-2002, before moving on to Villareal. From there he moved on to Liverpool, where he has won the Premiership’s golden glove award three consecutive times, between 2006-2008, missing out on a fourth one last year. The way Liverpool’s defense has been playing, he won’t win it this year as well. On the international level, Reina would have had much more caps if it wasn’t for one, Iker Casillas. He’ll be on the bench for Spain in South Africa. Reina’s only vice is his indecisiveness at times to rush out towards crosses, staying too long on the goal line.
Number 4 – Edwin van der Sar, Manchester United & The Netherlands
2009-2010 Hasn’t been really Van der Sar’s season so far, making only 5 league appearances so far. Maybe that’s why the United haven’t been looking too great, currently at second, four points behind Chelsea. He’s 39, but in recent years he’s found his world class form again, owing a lot to Fergie for bringing him back into the big stage of European football. Van der Sar was part of the great 90’s Ajax side, winning the Champions League in 1995 and reaching the final once again in 1996. In 1999 he moved to Juventus, the first non-italian goalkeeper for the Bianconeri. He didn’t enjoy his time at Torino a great deal, and after Gianluigi Buffon was brought to the Delle Alpi, Van Der Sar moved on to Fulham, not a very Champions League kind of team. After four season with the small London side, Van der Sar was brought to Old Trafford for 2 million pounds, and his career was revived, winning three league titles and one champions league title in 2008. In 2009 he continued with his fantastic performances and setting a new record of going 1,311 minutes without conceding, breaking a top-flight football world record. He’s also back with the national side, coming out of international retirement, and it remains to be seen if he’ll be back in time to secure a place for the 2010 World Cup and it what kind of form he’ll be in. When you’re nearly 40, it isn’t so easy bouncing back from injuries.
Number 3 – Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus & Italy
When Buffon retires, he might go down as the greatest goalkeeper in history. He’s not immune to mistakes like he was earlier in his career, including in the 2006 World Cup, where he excelled in goal for Italy, helping the Azzuri to it’s first win since 1982. Buffon has been a starter since he was 18, first for Parma and then for Juventus. He won five league titles with Juve, although only two are recognized today after the whole Calciopoli scandal. Buffon stayed with the sinking ship, spending a year playing in Serie B and got promoted back to the Serie A. Juve’s poor defense this season gives Buffon plenty of chances to show he’s still one of the best. Among his personal awards are winning the Champions League MVP in 2003, the Yashin Award in 2006 and seven times Serie A goalkeeper of the year.
Number 2 – Julio Cesar, Inter & Brazil
A Brazilian? Among the top goalies? Cesar apparently never heard of Brazil never having a world class goalkeeper, claiming a spot among the world’s elite since moving to Inter from Flamengo in 2005 (he was actually with Chievo before Inter, but didn’t play a single match). Since moving to Inter he has won four consecutive Serie A titles and constantly making amazing saves and producing fantastic performances at goal (The 0-0 home draw with Manchester United last season was one of his best). It hasn’t helped Inter achieve any continental success, but that has hardly been the Brazilians fault. Cesar has had Brazil’s first team shirt since after the 2006 World Cup, being one of the major reasons Brazil are considered favorite not just for their attack.
Number 1 – Iker Casillas, Real Madrid & Spain
It’s hard to believe Casillas is only 28, because it seems he’s been around forever. Well, he’s been starting for Madrid since 1999, winning two champions league titles and four La Liga titles, including a fantastic performance in the 2002 Champions League final against Leverkusen. As with every young goalkeeper, he was prone to mistakes, but it seems that in the last three years Casillas has ascended to the truly elite level and becoming the World’s best goalkeeper while Buffon gets older and Cech just hasn’t regained his pre-injury form. Casillas, although enjoying an improved defense this year with Madrid, is still the heart of Real’s backside, looking simply unbeatable at times. He’s been Spain’s number 1 since 2002, winning the 2008 European Championships with Spain’s wonderful side and will be part of the Spaniards attempt at a first World Cup in South Africa.