A new year brings with it new lists. Like last year, we’re counting down the top soccer players in the world in each position, begining with the guys who keep (or try to) the nets empty – The top five goalkeepers in the world according to us in the beginning of 2011.
Number 5 – Victor Valdes, Barcelona and Spain
It’s not easy being a Barcelona keeper. There’s so much focus on the amazing attack the team usually has and especially during the Pep era and the Rijkaard era, the goalkeeper gets forgotten. And when he does concede a goal, they’ll always say – ‘Barcelona never have a good one at goal’. That’s where people, some, are wrong about Valdes. It took him some time to become a world class goalkeeper, but he has been for the past 2-3 years. Last season and this one as well I think he’s playing better than Casillas. Yes, he has the best Centre Back duo in the lands ahead of him, but that doesn’t prevent him from being good or better almost any given day. Barcelona hardly rely on their keeper to win them points, but Valdes does pretty much everything else. Being the most succesful (title-wise) keeper in Barcelona history helps as well.
Number 4 – Petr Cech, Chelsea and Czech Republic
This isn’t the pre-Stephen Hunt Cech, but not from far it. After a rough year or two, this season Cech seems, most of the time, back on top of his game. Chelsea haven’t been looking like a top club for the last two months, but that’s mostly due to the Owner tinkering, injuries and a mental collapse after an amazing start. Still, hardly any of this can be blamed on Cech who looks like the confident, intimidating keeper he was during his better years. Now all he needs is for his team to get back on track.
Number 3 – Hugo Lloris, Lyon and France
The winner of the ‘Ligue 1 keeper of the year’ for the last two seasons, despite that awful mistake against South Africa in the World Cup, is turning into one of the best porteros Europe. He still hasn’t won a title with Lyon, but is usually at his best every game, League and in the Champions League. National Team? Captaining the side in their last match against England says it all. Lloris is turning from ‘just a brilliant shot stopper’ into a true leader in the back. France have a great one on the goal line for the decade ahead. I wonder if Lyon will be able to hold on to him for just a little more. There are plenty of teams (United, Arsenal, Bayern to name a few) dying for a young and quality keeper.
Number 2 – Julio Cesar, Inter and Brazil
Is Cesar’s injury the reason Inter looks so bad on defense this season? It’s one of them, although the bigger reason has to hating Benitez after the Mourinho years and the eventual fall after a perfect year. Cesar has played only 9 league games for Inter this season but has already kept 4 clean sheets and a return to the form he has kept during the recent championship years is key for Inter’s charge at a Champions League spot in 2011.
Number 1 – Iker Casillas, Real Madrid and Spain
After this summer Casillas truly has it all. Iker Casillas didn’t have the best 2009-2010 season, I thought Valdes had a better year. Still, Casillas showed his worth during the World Cup and especially in the final, stopping the Dutch and Robben every time. Real, unlike Barcelona, allow their keeper more chances to prove his worth, and Casillas is once again brilliant and close to perfect nearly every game. And if having every title in the world isn’t enough, he goes to bed with this one next to him every night.